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Thematic Guide to Integrated Assessment Modeling



Incorporating Political Processes and Negotiation

An integrated assessment is presumably directed at an audience responsible for making decisions about managing the risk of climate change. But nobody, no organization, no government has the authority or power to manage the issue unilaterally: Others' decisions matter. An issue not yet addressed by any integrated assessment project is how to represent the decisions and behavior of important actors other than those to whom the study is addressed.

Of course, any economic modeling incorporated in an integrated assessment represents other actors' decisions, when those actors are numerous, small, and act through markets. But in international negotiations and policy-making, (and indeed, in many instances, in domestic politics) decisions of a small number of large, discrete actors jointly determine outcomes. Most assessment projects represent these other actors' decisions simply by jointly specifying policies adopted by all major actors, e.g., by stipulating that OECD nations all enact a $10 per ton carbon tax, while the rest of the world does nothing. Approaches to model internally the decision-making of other agents are not yet well developed but are of great importance. A minimal approach would be to enrich the specification of other actors' decisions to include sets of plausible outcomes of the international negotiating process, including varying degrees of national implementation of negotiated commitments. Alternatively, one could seek to incorporate models of interactive decision-making and bargaining into integrated assessments. One approach involves embedding integrated assessment models within simulation-gaming exercises, in which teams playing the roles of major agents pursue negotiations, policy and implementation choices, in a simulated world described by the integrated models (Parson 1995a, 1995b).

For most integrated assessments, the consequences of the choices they are intended to inform depend on politics and negotiations; consequently, in these instances it is crucial that politics and negotiations be inside the assessment. But methods to do so are at present crude and little developed. Advancing practice in this area is a high priority for advancing the overall endeavor of integrated assessment.


The next section is Section 4: Selected Projects in Integrated Impact Assessments.





Parson, E.A. and K. Fisher-Vanden, Searching for Integrated Assessment: A Preliminary Investigation of Methods, Models, and Projects in the Integrated Assessment of Global Climatic Change. Consortium for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN). University Center, Mich. 1995.


Suggested Citation

Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN). 1995. Thematic Guide to Integrated Assessment Modeling of Climate Change [online]. Palisades, NY: CIESIN. Available at [accessed DATE].



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