EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

A framework for analysing cross-border climate change impacts, responses and their propagation

Timothy R. Carter1, Magnus Benzie2, Emanuele Campiglio3, Henrik Carlsen2, Stefan Fronzek1, Mikael Hildén1, Christopher Reyer4, and Chris West5
Timothy R. Carter et al.
  • 1Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE), Climate Change Programme, Helsinki, Finland
  • 2Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), Linnégatan 87D, 115 23 Stockholm, Sweden
  • 3University of Bologna, Department of Economics, Via San Giacomo 3, 40126 Bologna, Italy
  • 4Potsdam Institute for Climate Change Research (PIK), Member of the Leibniz Association, Telegrafenberg, P.O. Box 601203, 14412 Potsdam, Germany
  • 5Stockholm Environment Institute York, Department of Environment and Geography, University of York, York, UK

Most studies of climate change impacts, adaptation and vulnerability confine their attention to impacts and responses within the same geographical region. However, cross-border climate change impacts that occur remotely from the location of their initial impact can severely disrupt societies and livelihoods (Benzie et al., 2019; Carter et al., under review). In this paper we present a conceptual framework and accompanying terminology for describing and analysing such cross-border impacts. The conceptual framework distinguishes an initial impact that is caused by a climate trigger within a specific region. Downstream consequences of that impact propagate through an impact transmission system while adaptation responses to deal with the impact are propagated through a response transmission system.

The framework recognises and classifies differences in the types of climate trigger, categories of cross-border impacts, scales and dynamics of impact transmission, targets and dynamics of responses and the socio-economic and environmental context. We will demonstrate how the framework can be applied using  historical examples of cross-border impacts (e.g. the severe 2011 floods that affected industrial production in Thailand, propagating through the global economy) as well as prospective cases (e.g. multiple cross-border risks and opportunities presented by Arctic sea ice decline).

We argue that the framework provides a simple, but flexible, structure to describe and analyse cross-border climate impacts and their consequences. It offers a foundation for consistent comparisons of different patterns of cross-border impacts in different sectors and geographies. It also aids understanding of adaptation strategies and their potential consequences. In particular, with systematic application of the framework it is possible to highlight gaps in our existing understanding of system dynamics, or gain new insights into particular leverage points within the system. These can be targeted in order to find ways of building resilience to climate change in the region of origin, along the impact transmission system and in the recipient region exposed to the propagated risk.


This work is being undertaken as part of the European Commission Horizon 2020-funded project CASCADES (Cascading climate risks: Towards adaptive and resilient European Societies).


Benzie M, Carter TR, Carlsen H, Taylor R (2019) Cross-border climate change impacts: implications for the European Union. Regional Environmental Change 19: 763-776,

Carter TR, Benzie M, Campiglio E, Carlsen H, Fronzek S, Hildén M, Reyer CPO, West C (in review) A conceptual framework for cross-border impacts of climate change.

How to cite: Carter, T. R., Benzie, M., Campiglio, E., Carlsen, H., Fronzek, S., Hildén, M., Reyer, C., and West, C.: A framework for analysing cross-border climate change impacts, responses and their propagation, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-13263,, 2021.