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The inadequacy of current climate policies and pledges, and the project’s ambition at a glance.

Neither the first round of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) nor currently implemented climate policies are on track to meeting the Paris Agreement’s objectives. Net-zero targets embedded within aggregated long-term strategies can arguably deliver on the temperature goal of 2°C, but they still feature considerable feasibility concerns. Countries are expected to increase their ambition and produce new NDCs covering the post-2030 period, aiming to bridge the triple gap of climate action (implementation, ratcheting, ambition).

The design of a multi-dimensional set of policy measures that comprise countries’ climate policy agendas is supported by equally diverse integrated assessment modelling (IAM) activities. Notwithstanding the recent progress in the IAM literature and scenario space, the modelling world has fallen short of its promise to include non-scientists in its process, to account for individual choices and lifestyle changes that are indirectly narrated as assumptions not interacting with the vividly modelled technology-economy-environment-policy flows, and to place climate action as a cross-cutting theme in the sustainability spectrum.

In the light of these requirements, IAM COMPACT is an EU-funded research project under the Horizon Europe framework programme, aimed at effectively supporting the assessment of global climate goals, progress, and feasibility space, as well as the design of the next round of NDCs and policy planning beyond 2030 for major emitters and non-high-income countries.

In particular, the project will use a diverse ensemble of models, tools, and insights from social sciences and operations research, and will integrate bodies of knowledge to co-create the research process and enhance transparency, robustness, and policy relevance. It will notably explore the role of structural changes in major emitting sectors and of political, behaviour, and social aspects in mitigation, as well as quantify factors promoting or hindering climate neutrality.

Critical in this direction will be the establishment and operationalisation of a policy response mechanism that will ensure the project’s policy and societal relevance, consisting in a structured approach to involving policy, industry, and civil society stakeholders in a co-creative scientific process.

Moreover, IAM COMPACT will account for disruptive or ‘extreme’ scenarios, in order to deliver a range of global and national pathways that are environmentally effective, economically viable, politically feasible, and socially desirable. In doing so, the project will fully account for COVID-19 impacts and recovery strategies, as well as align climate action with broader sustainability goals.

Finally, acknowledging the need to support countries with limited in-house capabilities to produce their own Paris-compliant, sustainable trajectories, IAM COMPACT will develop technical capacity and promoting ownership in four countries, including Kenya, Ethiopia, Sri Lanka, and Ukraine.

The project started in September 2022 and is expected to run until August 2025.