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Improved IAMs help plot a course for climate neutrality

Integrated assessment models combine key elements in energy, economy, land, water and climate into a consistent modelling framework. The EU-funded NAVIGATE project is boosting the capability of integrated assessment models in two key areas, to support the design and evaluation of effective climate policies.

Climate Change and Environment

Coordinated by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, the project NAVIGATE (Next generation of AdVanced InteGrated Assessment modelling to support climaTE policy making) brings together leading institutions in the field of integrated assessment modelling and domain experts from 15 partners across Europe, as well as institutions in Brazil and China. The 4-year project is split into seven distinct work packages. Work began in 2019 with a critical assessment of existing integrated assessment models (IAMs) against new scientific literature, real-world uncertainties, and the identification of knowledge and methodological gaps. Work is now underway to complement these existing IAMs with major advances in two important areas. Firstly, NAVIGATE will improve the representation of transformative structural and technological change in the economy and sectors such as industry (including electrification, carbon capture and storage, and carbon capture and utilisation) and land use (such as deep mitigation measures in agriculture and nature-based CO2 removal). The project will also factor in the implications of changes in lifestyle and consumption. Secondly, NAVIGATE will depict how the impacts of climate policies, climate change and the benefits of mitigation and adaptation strategies (in terms of avoided damages and reduced inequality) are distributed geographically and demographically. These key efforts are set against a backdrop of other enhancements such as methodologies to better assess the robustness of IAM results. The project aims to increase the uptake of IAMs among policymakers by maximising the usability, transparency and legitimacy of these powerful decision-support frameworks. NAVIGATE is providing new insights into how long-term climate goals can be translated into short-term policy action, and how countries and sectors can work in concert to implement the Paris Agreement. The project has already contributed significantly to EU climate policy through efforts such as an analysis of COVID-19 impacts, submissions to the UNFCCC Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice Research Dialogue 2020, and analyses of climate-neutral 2050 pathways and modelling approaches for the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report. A stakeholder workshop on the robustness and legitimacy of climate models in 2020 helped to improve the legitimacy and transparency of IAMs, and numerous papers have been published that contribute to a better understanding of the fundamental properties of global mitigation pathways. The project also offers new knowledge to support international climate policy processes like the UNFCCC 2023 Global Stocktake.

Keywords

NAVIGATE, IAM, integrated assessment, model, climate, carbon, transformative, structural, technological, UNFCCC, policy