Diversifying models for analysing global change scenarios and sustainability pathways (2022)

E. A. Moallemi, L. Gao, S. Eker, B. Bryan, Diversifying models for analysing global change scenarios and sustainability pathways. Global Sustainability 5, 1-17 (2022). url: https://t.co/2cGUyA0GbK

Non-technical summary: Models are increasingly used to inform the transformation of human–Earth systems towards a sustainable future, aligned with the sustainable development goals (SDGs). We argue that a greater diversity of models ought to be used for sustainability analysis to better address complexity and uncertainty. We articulate the steps to model global change socioeconomic and climatic scenarios with new models. Through these steps, we generate new scenario projections using a human–Earth system dynamics model. Our modelling brings new insights about the sensitivity of sustainability trends to future uncertainty and their alignment with or divergence from previous model-based scenario projections.

Technical summary: The future uncertainty and complexity of alternative socioeconomic and climatic scenarios challenge the model-based analysis of sustainable development. Obtaining robust insights requires a systematic processing of uncertainty and complexity not only in input assumptions, but also in the diversity of model structures that simulates the multisectoral dynamics of human and Earth system interactions. Here, we implement the global change scenarios, that is, the shared socioeconomic pathways and the representative concentration pathways, in a feedback-rich, integrated assessment model (IAM) of human–Earth system dynamics, called FeliX, to serve two aims: (1) to provide modellers with well-defined steps for the adoption of established scenarios in new IAMs and (2) to explore the impacts of model uncertainty and its structural complexity on the projection of these scenarios for sustainable development. Our modelling shows internally consistent scenario storylines across sectors, yet with quantitatively different realisations of these scenarios compared to other IAMs due to the new model’s structural complexity. The results highlight the importance of enumerating global change scenarios and their uncertainty exploration with a diversity of models of different input assumptions and structures to capture a wider variety of future possibilities and sustainability indicators.

Social media summary: New study highlights the importance of global change scenario analysis with new, SDG-focused IAMs.



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