U.S. Department of Energy Office of Biological and Environmental Research

BER Research Highlights

Modeling Future Climate to Make Decisions Today
Published: February 14, 2011
Posted: June 22, 2011

While biophysical climate research depends strongly on historical records, a challenge for socio-economic research concerns the need to look forward and act today based on expectations of the future. DOE researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change have published a new study comparing the results of their Emissions Prediction and Policy Analysis (EPPA) model solved as a recursive dynamic or as a forward-looking model. A recursive dynamic solution is obtained by solving for equilibrium in all markets one period at a time, reflecting the historical evolution of capital stock, GDP growth, prices, and other time-dependent variables. In a forward-looking model, all time periods are solved simultaneously using a simplified model, and so decisions made in early periods take into account the values of economic variables in all future periods. The goal was to see how the forward-looking solution approach affected results, since more complex versions of the EPPA model cannot be solved as forward-looking models. The study analyzes three different U.S. climate scenarios with varying levels of emissions abatement occurring between 2012 and 2050. The researchers found that the forward-looking and the recursive models produced very similar emissions abatement and carbon price paths, reassuring consistency, as it implies that the recursive model, which can be extended to longer time horizons and more geographic regions and include greater technological detail, approximates well the results of the forward-looking approach in terms of prices and emissions.

Reference: Gurgel, A. C., S. Paltsev, J. Reilly, and G. Metcalf. 2011. β€œAn Analysis of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Cap-and-Trade Proposals Using a Forward-Looking Economic Model,” Environment and Development Economics 16, 155–76.

Contact: Bob Vallario, SC 23.1, (301) 903-5758
Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Multisector Dynamics (formerly Integrated Assessment)

Division: SC-23.1 Climate and Environmental Sciences Division, BER


BER supports basic research and scientific user facilities to advance DOE missions in energy and environment. More about BER

Recent Highlights

May 10, 2019
Quantifying Decision Uncertainty in Water Management via a Coupled Agent-Based Model
Considering risk perception can improve the representation of human decision-making processes in age [more...]

May 09, 2019
Projecting Global Urban Area Growth Through 2100 Based on Historical Time Series Data and Future Scenarios
Study provides country-specific urban area growth models and the first dataset on country-level urba [more...]

May 05, 2019
Calibrating Building Energy Demand Models to Refine Long-Term Energy Planning
A new, flexible calibration approach improved model accuracy in capturing year-to-year changes in bu [more...]

May 03, 2019
Calibration and Uncertainty Analysis of Demeter for Better Downscaling of Global Land Use and Land Cover Projections
Researchers improved the Demeter model’s performance by calibrating key parameters and establi [more...]

Apr 22, 2019
Representation of U.S. Warm Temperature Extremes in Global Climate Model Ensembles
Representation of warm temperature events varies considerably among global climate models, which has [more...]

List all highlights (possible long download time)