From optimal to robust climate strategies: expanding integrated assessment model ensembles to manage economic, social, and environmental objectives (2022)

Ferrari Luca, Angelo Carlino, Paolo Gazzotti, Massimo Tavoni, and Andrea Castelletti. 2022. “From Optimal to Robust Climate Strategies: Expanding Integrated Assessment Model Ensembles to Manage Economic, Social, and Environmental Objectives.” Environmental Research Letters. doi:


Cost-benefit integrated assessment models generate welfare-maximizing mitigation pathways under a set of assumptions to deal with deep uncertainty in future scenarios. These assumptions include socio-economic projections, the magnitude and dynamics of climate impacts on the economy, and physical climate response. As models explore the uncertainty space within the boundaries of their objective functions, they risk providing scenarios which are too narrow and not sufficiently robust. Here, we apply robust and multi-objective decision-making methods to extract relevant information from a large ensemble of optimal emissions-reduction pathways generated by a regionalized cost-benefit integrated assessment model under deterministic welfare optimization. We show that shifting the focus from optimal to robust solutions reduces the uncertainty in mitigation strategies and aligns them toward the Paris goals. Moreover, we analyze the trade-offs between climatic (temperature), social (inequality) and economic (welfare) objectives and illustrate four robust pathways under various decision-making criteria. We show that robust mitigation strategies can lead to regional emission-reduction strategies which are fair. Our results show how to extract more comprehensive climate strategies from available scenario ensembles and that the highest discrepancies at the local level policies are found in the developing and most-impacted regions.

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