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A Biophysical Perspective of IPCC Integrated Energy Modeling.

Updated: Oct 24, 2018

Graham Palmer

University of Melbourne

Melbourne, Australia


The following presentation is an analysis of the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (AR5), specifically in relation to Integrated Assessment Models (IAMs). I focus on the key drivers of economic growth, how these are derived, and whether IAMs properly reflect the underlying biophysical systems. Since baseline IAM scenarios project a three to eightfold increase in GDP-per-capita by 2100, but with consumption losses of only between 3 to 11%, strong mitigation seems compatible with economic growth. However, since long-term productivity and economic growth are uncertain, they are included as exogenous parameters in IAM scenarios. The biophysical economics perspective is that GDP and productivity growth are in fact emergent parameters from the economic-biophysical system. If future energy systems were to possess worse biophysical performance characteristics, we would expect lower productivity and economic growth, and therefore the price of reaching emission targets may be significantly costlier than projected. Here I show that IAMs insufficiently describe the energy-economy nexus, and propose that those key parameters are integrated as feedbacks withthe use of environmentally extended input-output analysis (EEIOA).

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