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Compendium on methods and tools to evaluate impacts of, and vulnerability and adaptation to, climate change

IPCC Technical Guidelines for Assessing Climate Change Impacts and Adaptations

A set of technical guidelines for the scientist that does not seek to prescribe a single preferred method but rather a range of methods, some of which may be more suitable than others to particular tasks, but which yield comparable results across regions and sectors.

The guidelines aid users in assessing the impacts of potential climate change and in evaluating appropriate adaptations. The Guidelines outline a seven-step process:

  1. Definition of the problem;
  2. Selection of the methods;
  3. Testing of the methods;
  4. Selection of the scenarios;
  5. Assessment of biophysical and socioeconomic impacts;
  6. Assessment of autonomous adjustments;
  7. Evaluation of adaptation strategies.

A range of methods is identified at each step.

Appropriate Use To enable comparable estimates of impacts and adaptations in different sectors or regions.
Scope All regions and sectors
Key Output Most suitable strategies for minimizing the effects of climate change.
Key Imput Depends on existing data, methods that will be used, and the particular objectives of the assessment.
Key tools General circulation model scenarios, use of the scenario data in impacts assessment, economic models, biophysical models, cost-benefit analysis. Please see the UNEP manual for more information on methods used. Summary of the methods used under this approach can be found in the first (FCCC/SBI/1999/11), second (FCCC/SBI/2000/15), third (FCCC/SBI/2001/14 and Add.1), fourth (FCCC/SBI/2002/16), and fifth (FCCC/SBI/2003/13) compilations and syntheses of initial national communications from non-Annex I Parties at
Ease of Use Depends on specific application
Training Required Depends on user familiarity with prescribed tools. It is likely that some training is required to complete the seven steps, particularly in using advanced quantitative models and in linking model inputs and outputs.
Training Available No formal training currently offered though IPCC, though training may be available for particular tools the guidelines prescribe, directly from their source. See also training module of the UNITAR Climate Change Programme at
Computer Requirements No explicit requirements for employing framework, though use of associated tools will require software and in some cases significant computing resources.

Carter, T.R., M.L. Parry, H. Harasawa, and S. Nishioka. 1994. IPCC Technical Guidelines for Assessing Climate Change Impacts and Adaptations. London: Department of Geography, University College London.

Parry, M. and T. Carter. 1998. Climate Impact and Adaptation Assessment: A Guide to the IPCC Approach. London: Earthscan.

Guidelines are available at or, or can be obtained from Department of Geography, University College London, 26 Bedford Way, London, WC1H 0AP, United Kingdom.


U.S. Country Studies (see summary that follows), UNEP Country Studies (Contact Ravi Sharma,, UNDP National Communications Support Programme (project documents at, and the UNFCCCC compilations of the INCs at

Contacts for Framework, Documentation, Technical Assistance

Tim Carter

Cost No cost for obtaining documentation of framework. Actual cost of conducting such an assessment can vary widely. A detailed study can cost more than several hundred thousand US dollars, although useful results can be obtained from small-scale studies costing US$50,000-100,000.

Benioff, R., S. Guill, and J. Lee (eds.). 1996. Vulnerability and Adaptation Assessments: An International Guidebook. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Erda, L., W.C. Bolhofer, S. Huq, S. Lenhart, S.K. Mukherjee, J.B. Smith, and J. Wisniewski (eds.) 1996. Climate Change Vulnerability and Adaptation in Asia and the Pacific. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers.