Integrated assessment modelling

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Integrated assessment modelling (IAM) or integrated modelling (IM)[a] is a term used for a type of scientific modelling that tries to link main features of society and economy with the biosphere and atmosphere into one modelling framework. The goal of integrated assessment modelling is to accommodate informed policy-making, usually in the context of climate change [2] though also in other areas of human and social development [3]. While the detail and extent of integrated disciplines varies strongly per model, all climatic integrated assessment modelling includes economic processes as well as processes producing greenhouse gases.[4] Other integrated assessment models also integrate other aspects of human development such as education,[5] health,[6] infrastructure,[7] and governance.[8]

These models are integrated because they span multiple academic disciplines, including economics and climate science and for more comprehensive models also energy systems, land-use change, agriculture, infrastructure, conflict, governance, technology, education, and health. The word assessment comes from the use of these models to provide information for answering policy questions.[9] To quantify these integrated assessment studies, numerical models are used. Integrated assessment modelling does not provide predictions for the future but rather estimates what possible scenarios look like.[9]

There are two different types of integrated assessment models. First, there are those models that focus on quantifying future developmental pathways or scenarios and provide detailed, sectoral information on the complex processes modelled.[4] Here they are called process-based integrated assessment models. Second, there are models that aggregate the costs of climate change and climate change mitigation to find estimates of the total costs of climate change.[4] Here, these models are called cost-benefit integrated assessment models.

Process-based Integrated Assessment Models[edit]

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have relied on process-based integrated assessment models to quantify mitigation scenarios.[10][11] They have been used to explore different pathways for staying within climate policy targets such as the 1.5 °C target agreed upon in the Paris Agreement.[12] Moreover, these models have underpinned research including energy policy assessment[13] and simulate the Shared socioeconomic pathways.[14][15] Notable modelling frameworks include IMAGE,[16] MESSAGEix,[17] AIM/GCE,[18] GCAM,[19] REMIND-MAgPIE,[20] and WITCH-GLOBIOM.[21][22] While these scenarios are highly policy-relevant, interpretation of the scenarios should be done with care.[23]

Cost-benefit Integrated Assessment Models[edit]

Cost-benefit integrated assessment models are the main tools for calculating the social cost of carbon, or the marginal social cost of emitting one more tonne of carbon (as carbon dioxide) into the atmosphere at any point in time.[24] For instance, the DICE,[25] PAGE,[26] and FUND[27] models have been used by the US Interagency Working Group to calculate the social cost of carbon and its results have been used for regulatory impact analysis.[28]

This type of modelling is carried out to find the total cost of climate impacts, which are generally considered a negative externality not captured by conventional markets. In order to correct such a market failure, for instance by using a carbon tax, the cost of emissions is required.[24] However, the estimates of the social cost of carbon are highly uncertain[29] and will remain so for the foreseeable future.[30] It has been argued 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".[31] Still, it has been argued that attempting to calculate the social cost of carbon is useful to gain insight into the effect of certain processes on climate impacts, as well as to better understand one of the determinants international cooperation in the governance of climate agreements.[29]

Integrated assessment models have not been used solely to assess environmental or climate change-related fields. They have also been used to analyze patterns of conflict,[32] the Sustainable Development Goals,[33] trends across issue area in Africa,[34], and food security.[35]


  1. ^ This second shortened version is used in the 2014 IPCC Fifth Assessment Report.[1] Note too the American spellings of integrated assessment modeling and integrated modeling.


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  2. ^ Wang, Zheng; Wu, Jing; Liu, Changxin; Gu, Gaoxiang (2017). Integrated Assessment Models of Climate Change Economics. Singapore: Springer Singapore. doi:10.1007/978-981-10-3945-4. ISBN 9789811039430.
  3. ^ Hughes, Barry (2019). International Futures: Building and Using Global Models. Elsevier Academic Press. ISBN 978-0128042717.
  4. ^ a b c Weyant, John (2017). "Some Contributions of Integrated Assessment Models of Global Climate Change". Review of Environmental Economics and Policy. 11 (1): 115–137. doi:10.1093/reep/rew018. ISSN 1750-6816.
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  9. ^ a b "Inaugural lecture Detlef van Vuuren: Integrated Assessment: Back to the Future - PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency". Retrieved 2019-06-01.
  10. ^ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Staff. (2015-01-26). Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change : Working Group III Contribution to the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report. ISBN 978-1107654815. OCLC 994399607.
  11. ^ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, issuing body. Global warming of 1.5°C. OCLC 1056192590.
  12. ^ Rogelj, J. Popp, A. Calvin, K.V. Luderer, G. Emmerling, J. Gernaat, D. Fujimori, S. Strefler, J. Hasegawa, T. Marangoni, G. Krey, V. Kriegler, E. Riahi, K. van Vuuren, D.P. Doelman, J. Drouet, L. Edmonds, J. Fricko, O. Harmsen, M. Havlik, P. Humpenöder, F. Stehfest, E. Tavoni, M. (2018-03-05). Scenarios towards limiting global mean temperature increase below 1.5 °C. Nature Publishing Group. OCLC 1039547304.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  13. ^ Böhringer, Christoph; Rutherford, Thomos F. (September 2009). "Integrated assessment of energy policies: Decomposing top-down and bottom-up". Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control. 33 (9): 1648–1661. doi:10.1016/j.jedc.2008.12.007. ISSN 0165-1889.
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  16. ^ Stehfest, E. (Elke) (2014). Integrated assessment of global environmental change with IMAGE 3.0 : model description and policy applications. ISBN 9789491506710. OCLC 884831253.
  17. ^ Huppmann, Daniel; Gidden, Matthew; Fricko, Oliver; Kolp, Peter; Orthofer, Clara; Pimmer, Michael; Kushin, Nikolay; Vinca, Adriano; Mastrucci, Alessio (February 2019). "The MESSAGE Integrated Assessment Model and the ix modeling platform (ixmp): An open framework for integrated and cross-cutting analysis of energy, climate, the environment, and sustainable development" (PDF). Environmental Modelling & Software. 112: 143–156. doi:10.1016/j.envsoft.2018.11.012.
  18. ^ Fujimori, Shinichiro; Masui, Toshihiko; Matsuoka, Yuzuru (2017), "AIM/CGE V2.0 Model Formula", Post-2020 Climate Action, Springer Singapore, pp. 201–303, doi:10.1007/978-981-10-3869-3_12, ISBN 9789811038686
  19. ^ Calvin, Katherine; Patel, Pralit; Clarke, Leon; Asrar, Ghassem; Bond-Lamberty, Ben; Cui, Ryna Yiyun; Di Vittorio, Alan; Dorheim, Kalyn; Edmonds, Jae (2019-02-15). "GCAM v5.1: representing the linkages between energy, water, land, climate, and economic systems". Geoscientific Model Development. 12 (2): 677–698. doi:10.5194/gmd-12-677-2019. ISSN 1991-9603.
  20. ^ Luderer, Gunnar; Leimbach, Marian; Bauer, Nico; Kriegler, Elmar; Baumstark, Lavinia; Bertram, Christoph; Giannousakis, Anastasis; Hilaire, Jerome; Klein, David (2015). "Description of the REMIND Model (Version 1.6)". doi:10.2139/ssrn.2697070. ISSN 1556-5068. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  21. ^ Bosetti, Valentina; Carraro, Carlo; Galeotti, Marzio; Massetti, Emanuele; Tavoni, Massimo (2006). "WITCH - A World Induced Technical Change Hybrid Model" (PDF). doi:10.2139/ssrn.948382. ISSN 1556-5068. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  22. ^ Gambhir, Ajay; Butnar, Isabela; Li, Pei-Hao; Smith, Pete; Strachan, Neil (2019-05-08). "A Review of Criticisms of Integrated Assessment Models and Proposed Approaches to Address These, through the Lens of BECCS" (PDF). Energies. 12 (9): 1747. doi:10.3390/en12091747. ISSN 1996-1073.
  23. ^ Huppmann, Daniel; Rogelj, Joeri; Kriegler, Elmar; Krey, Volker; Riahi, Keywan (2018-10-15). "A new scenario resource for integrated 1.5 °C research" (PDF). Nature Climate Change. 8 (12): 1027–1030. doi:10.1038/s41558-018-0317-4. ISSN 1758-678X.
  24. ^ a b "Q&A: The social cost of carbon". Carbon Brief. 2017-02-14. Retrieved 2019-06-01.
  25. ^ "DICE/RICE models - William Nordhaus | Yale Economics". Retrieved 2019-06-01.
  26. ^ Yumashev, Dmitry Hope, Chris Schaefer, Kevin Riemann-Campe, Kathrin Iglesias-Suarez, Fernando Jafarov, Elchin Burke, Eleanor J. Young, Paul J. Elshorbany, Yasin Whiteman, Gail (2019-04-23). Climate policy implications of nonlinear decline of Arctic land permafrost and other cryosphere elements. OCLC 1099183857.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  27. ^ "FUND - Climate Framework for Uncertainty, Negotiation and Distribution". Retrieved 2019-06-01.
  28. ^ United States. Interagency Working Group on Social Cost of Carbon, issuing body. Council of Economic Advisers (U.S.), sponsoring body. Technical support document, technical update of the social cost of carbon for regulatory impact analysis--under executive order 12886. OCLC 959713749.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  29. ^ a b Ricke, Katharine; Drouet, Laurent; Caldeira, Ken; Tavoni, Massimo (2019-03-25). "Author Correction: Country-level social cost of carbon". Nature Climate Change. 9 (7): 567. doi:10.1038/s41558-019-0455-3. ISSN 1758-678X.
  30. ^ Pezzey, John C. V. (2018-11-12). "Why the social cost of carbon will always be disputed". Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change. 10 (1): e558. doi:10.1002/wcc.558. ISSN 1757-7780.
  31. ^ Pindyck, Robert S. (2017). "The Use and Misuse of Models for Climate Policy". Review of Environmental Economics and Policy. 11 (1): 100–114. doi:10.1093/reep/rew012.
  32. ^ Moyer, Jonathan; Bohl, David; Hanna, Taylor; Mapes, Brendan; Rafa, Mickey (2019). Assessing the Impact of War on Development in Yemen (PDF). UNDP.
  33. ^ Moyer, Jonathan; Hedden, Steve (2020). "Are we on the right path to achieve the sustainable development goals?". World Development. 127.
  34. ^ Moyer, Jonathan; Bohl, David; Hanna, Taylor; Mayaki, Ibrahim; Bwalya, Martin (2019). Africa's path to 2063: choice in the face of great transformation (PDF). Midrand, South Afric: African Union Development Agency.
  35. ^ Hedden, Steve; Rafa, Mickey; Moyer, Jonathan (August 2018). Achieving Food Security in Uganda (PDF).

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