The Ethics of Integrated Assessment Modelling

Simon Hollnaicher (doctoral project, ongoing)

Integrated-Assessment-Models [IAMs] are currently of great importance in scientific and economic advice on climate policy. IAMs simulate the earth, climate, and socio-economic system in an integrated way and thereby aim to answer complex policy questions relating to climate change. Feasibility play a central role in these models, both explicitly and implicitly. Explicitly, IAMs aim to explore feasible pathways consistent with a given temperature goal. Implicitly, many technical feasibility assumptions need to be made in determining inputs for these assessments and in designing the models. While modelers tend to see IAMs as mapping out policy space, they play a more complex role in practice. IAMs tend to involve many normative assumptions, of which many are rather hidden in technical assumptions and decisions on model design. This project aims at helping to understand these assumptions and their ethical implications. More concretely, this project investigates the conception of feasibility in IAMs, critically engages with concrete feasibility assumptions in current assessments and tries to contribute to the methodological discussion around how to determine feasibility assumptions in a legitimate way.