Climate Change, Uncertainty and Transformation

Uncertainty has emerged as a problem for scientists and policy makers alike in climate change decision-making. This study states that uncertainty in climate change has been narrowly conceptualised from above (by scientists, experts and decision-makers). In doing so, the day-to-day experiences and practices of local people around uncertainty have been ignored, resulting in flawed actions.

Uncertainties in climate change projections are particularly high and there remains no consensus around how to integrate uncertainty in climate change decision-making. Despite these problems, quantitative assessment (usually based on probabilities and ecological risk assessment) remains at the heart of the scientific method. This project sees uncertainty as a key barrier to efforts to support social transformation to respond to the challenges posed by climate change.

It seeks to:

  • Explore discourses and practices of climate change uncertainty and transformation from 'below' and from 'above' and how they interact in diverse settings in India;
  • Study to what extent the discrepancy between uncertainty understandings is a barrier to social transformation necessary to adapt to climate change;
  • Develop approaches to bridge the different perspectives of uncertainty from 'above' and 'below' in order to foster more productive and socially just ways of dealing with uncertainties and social transformation.

Climate Change Uncertainty and Transformation Project Brief

Shibaji Bose writes for The Parliamentarian - The Sinking Heaven 

Upasona Ghosh writes for the Health Systems Global blog - One year on from the Paris Agreement and are we any closer to tackling climate change? 

Key contacts

Photo of Lyla Mehta

T: +44 (0)1273 915677


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Photo of Lars Otto Naess

T: +44 (0)1273 915849


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photo of Shilpi Srivastava

T: +44 (0)1273 915859


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Transforming Urban Governance to Manage Uncertainty and Climate Change in Mumbai, India

IDS Policy Briefing 148 (2018)
Adam, H.N., Parthasarathy, D. and Narayanan, N.C.

Addressing Climate Change Uncertainty in Dryland Kachchh, India

IDS Policy Briefing 147 (2018)
Srivastava, S. and Mehta, L.
Project Dates:
December 2014 - December 2017
Project Status:
The Research Council of Norway
Research Themes / Programmes:
Climate Change