"Climate change assessment models need broader context"

Multi-actor integrated assessment models based on well-being concepts beyond GDP could support policymakers by highlighting the interrelation of climate change mitigation and other important societal problems. That is the conclusion of the paper “Free-riders to forerunners”, that was published in Nature Geoscience while the UNFCCC COP 21 meeting, also known as the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, is under way. Dr. Alexey Voinov, who is a professor in Spatio-Temporal Systems Modeling for Sustainability Science at ITC and Dr. Tatiana Filatova, associate professor at the Faculty of Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences of the University of Twente, are amongst the authors.

Climate change mitigation has traditionally been treated as a purely economic problem of optimizing a cost-benefit ratio governed by GDP growth, the authors noted. This narrow perspective divorces the problem of climate change from other major concerns of policymakers striving to resolve the complex conflicts of modern civilization. Climate change can aggravate these conflicts, as is widely recognized. But actions to mitigate climate change can also contribute significantly to their resolution - an opportunity that has been widely overlooked. To recognize and exploit this opportunity, however, the current integrated assessment models need to be extended to include other important aspects of societal interactions, beyond the economics of GDP growth.

In their article, the writers suggest that rather simple multi-actor system-dynamic models can have a stronger impact on climate policy and should replace the traditional GDP-based cost-benefit analyses that have dominated the economic advice received by governments in the past. The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Community’s Seventh Framework Programme under Grant Agreements No. 308601 (COMPLEX). The full publication is available via (Subscription required).

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