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Integrated Assessment Models

Integrated Assessment Models:

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) uses ‘modelled pathways’ drawn using Integrated Assessment Models (IAMs) to estimate what it will take to limit the warming of the earth’s surface.

  • Integrated Assessment Models are complex models that examine possible futures of the energy and climate system and economies. They are “integrated” because they combine different strands of knowledge to model human society alongside parts of the Earth system.
  • Its macroeconomic models can point to future growth levels in terms of GDP; its energy models can project future consumption; vegetation models can examine land-use changes; and earth-system models use the laws of physics to understand how climate evolves.
  • With such integration across disciplines, IAMs are meant to provide policy-relevant guidelines on climate action.
  • They also prioritise least-cost assessments — for example, the absolute cost of setting up a solar plant or undertaking afforestation in India is lower than in the U.S.
  • However, experts have said they could exercise the option of enabling countries to equitably share the burden of action, where the richest undertake more drastic mitigation action more immediately.
  • They capture human-society interactions by describing them as coupled systems on the relevant geographical and intertemporal scales for policy-making.
  • They typically include a description of human activity (e.g. energy and land use), direct drivers of environmental change (e.g. emissions, land use and resource use), resulting impacts (e.g. climate change and consequences for crop yields) and response options.