Perspective | Published:

Industrial ecology in integrated assessment models

Nature Climate Change volume 7, pages 1320 (2017) | Download Citation

Abstract

Technology-rich integrated assessment models (IAMs) address possible technology mixes and future costs of climate change mitigation by generating scenarios for the future industrial system. Industrial ecology (IE) focuses on the empirical analysis of this system. We conduct an in-depth review of five major IAMs from an IE perspective and reveal differences between the two fields regarding the modelling of linkages in the industrial system, focussing on AIM/CGE, GCAM, IMAGE, MESSAGE, and REMIND. IAMs ignore material cycles and recycling, incoherently describe the life-cycle impacts of technology, and miss linkages regarding buildings and infrastructure. Adding IE system linkages to IAMs adds new constraints and allows for studying new mitigation options, both of which may lead to more robust and policy-relevant mitigation scenarios.

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Acknowledgements

A.A. received support from the Research Council of Norway through the Centre for Sustainable Energy Studies (contract 209697). The research was conducted without involvement of the funding sources. The authors thank V. Krey (MESSAGE), G. Luderer (REMIND), and S. Fujimori (AIM/CGE) for providing additional information and for commenting on earlier versions of this work. The authors thank E. Ó Broin for helping to review the AIM-CGE model and for his contribution to framing our review approach. The authors remain solely responsible for the content of this Perspective and for possible mistakes in the model review.

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Affiliations

  1. Faculty of Environment and Natural Resources, University of Freiburg, Freiburg D-79106, Germany

    • Stefan Pauliuk
  2. Industrial Ecology Programme, Department for Energy and Process Engineering, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Trondheim NO-7491, Norway

    • Anders Arvesen
    •  & Konstantin Stadler
  3. Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, New Haven, Connecticut 06511, USA

    • Edgar G. Hertwich

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Contributions

S.P. and E.H. designed the approach, A.A., K.S., and S.P. performed the review, and all authors contributed to writing the paper.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Stefan Pauliuk.

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https://doi.org/10.1038/nclimate3148

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