Integrated assessment modelling
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Integrated assessment modelling (IAM) or integrated modelling (IM)[a] is a type of scientific modelling often used by the environmental sciences and environmental policy analysis. The modelling is integrated because environmental problems do not respect the borders between academic disciplines. Integrated assessment models therefore integrate knowledge from two or more domains into a single framework. Integrated modelling is referred to as assessment because the activity aims to generate useful information for policy making, rather than to advance knowledge for knowledge's sake. Integrated assessment modelling is that part of integrated assessment that relies on the use of numerical models.
Integrated assessment modelling has a long history, and scholars disagree on the first precedent. However, it became recognizable as a sub- or inter-discipline in the late 1980s with a focus on understanding and regulating acidification. Integrated assessment modelling was further developed in the area of climate change, inter alias in the context of the Energy Modeling Forum.
Notable centres of integrated assessment modelling are IIASA, MIT, Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, and International Futures. Notable scholars are Barry B. Hughes, Bill Nordhaus, Robert Mendelsohn, Rich Richels, Michael Schlesinger, Stephen Schneider, Richard Tol, John Weyant, and Gary Yohe.
While the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) relies heavily on integrated modeling, IPCC Fifth Assessment Report lead author Thomas Bruckner cautions against overinterpreting the results from such modeling. With regard to future technology choice, Bruckner observes that "The quantitative deployment of nuclear power or CCS technologies that has been found by the IPCC authors in the different mitigation scenarios, for instance, occasionally has been (mis)interpreted as an IPCC recommendation for their factual usage.":20 (emphasis per original) Bruckner continues "The scale of deployment of low-carbon technologies shown in [IPCC] diagrams ... reveals neither the possible contribution of the respective energy technology to GHG mitigation nor the required contribution. ... The possible contribution (without considering costs) might be higher whereas the strictly required one could be lower.:20
Economist Robert Pindyck argues that IAMs are problematic and "close to useless as tools for policy analysis". He argues that "IAM-based analyses of climate policy create a perception of knowledge and precision that is illusory, and can fool policy-makers into thinking that the forecasts the models generate have some kind of scientific legitimacy".
- Clarke, Leon; Jiang, Kejun; et al. (2014). "Chapter 6: Assessing transformation pathways". In IPCC. Climate change 2014: mitigation of climate change. Contribution of Working Group III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (PDF). Cambridge, UK and New York, NY, USA: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-1-107-65481-5. Retrieved 2016-05-09.
- Bruckner, Thomas (January 2016). "Decarbonizing the global energy system: An updated summary of the IPCC report on mitigating climate change". Energy Technology. 4 (1): 19–30. doi:10.1002/ente.201500387. ISSN 2194-4296. Retrieved 2016-10-26.
- Robert S. Pindyck (April 2015). "The Use and Misuse of Models for Climate Policy". National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) (Working Paper No. 21097). doi:10.3386/w21097.