The Integrated Platforms research is led by Jun Li
Integrated Assessment Models (IAMs) have been used to estimate the economic impacts of climate change and the costs and benefits of mitigation strategies based on emission policy scenario development. IAMs model some key features of human systems such as energy demand/supply, economy and land use, and link these to simplified representations of the climate system and climate impacts.
Many IAM models have been developed and are widely used such as the E3 (i.e. Energy-Environment-Economy) series at 4CMR and the Tyndall Centre (through the Community Integrated Assessment System). However they have their limitations:
Complication: most models are complicated and yet remedial in terms of economics theory, assumptions, model structure and computation applied. The models were specifically designed for certain advanced groups of researchers and analysts and are far from applicable and usable in the practical world of climate decisions that often are taken on quite short timelines.
System Openness: most models are closed-systems. There are few detailed illustrations of theories, equations and system structures to explain the models to potential users, but as the IAM source codes are not open and the logic is not described in detail, the results can not be reproduced and verified.
Connectivity: the IAMs require communication with climate, earth system and adaptation models. However the connections are poor. Most IAMs don’t simulate feedbacks of climate on energy and economic systems deriving from a high temperature or adaptation activities, as they lack a standard interface and consistent scenarios.
Uncertainty: uncertainty analysis is not fully integrated into most IAMs. Parameters and variables are fixed, and the outputs of the models are not standarised across the research community. Comparison of results between the models is compromised, as different theories and assumptions are applied. There is a need to integrate uncertainty information by standardizing the IAMs and applying interval distribution (i.e. a probability distribution formed by intervals or gaps) to the IAMs’ modelling process.
Meanwhile, for research students in social science, there is a missing link between theories, mathematical modelling and computing practice. The result is that the learning curve for an IAM can be steep, and there is little ability for a student to focus on only one component of the complex model and make improvements to that. An IAM open platform (IOP) is required to engage broader research communities, integrating the sciences, social sciences and policy studies.
The Integrated Platform research at 4CMR is aimed at developing an Integrated Assessment Model (IAM) framework and mechanism to initiate a collective model development process in climate change mitigation by applying decision making and ‘plug and play’ strategies. It will be an open source model for use in analysing the implications of climate change mitigation and adaptation policies, and for stimulating development of a global community of scholars providing innovations into the components of the modelling. The research is in support of the Integrated Assessment activities of Cambridge Climate.
The Integrated Assessment Model Open Platform (IOP) will be based on comprehensive analysis of current IAMs focussed on principles of Complexity, System Openness, Connectivity and Uncertainty. It will consist of Economics, Energy System, Health, Environment and Decision modules, with two major information flow loops. There will be no explicit equilibrating mechanisms built into the representation of the platform.
An initial version will be targeted to students and independent researchers. The platform will be developed in two stages. The first stage is to build a framework and ‘first draft’ working IOP. The second stage will be a collective development mechanism, introduced to allow online users to contribute to the platform specification and improvement.
The research is a continuation and natural extension of the project - E3 Model Assessment and Inter-comparison Project (E3MAIP), which is developing a global community of scholars exploring Energy-Environment-Economy interdependencies and comparative analyzes to characterise and reduce uncertainty in assessing climate change policies.