The following article conducts an analysis of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report (AR5), specifically in relation to Integrated Assessment Models (IAMs). We 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 eight-fold increase in gross domestic product (GDP)-per-capita by 2100, but with consumption losses of only between 3-11%, 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, we show that IAMs insufficiently describe the energy-economy nexus and propose that those key parameters are integrated as feedbacks with the use of environmentally-extended input-output analysis (EEIOA). Further work is required to build a framework that can supplement and support IAM analysis to improve biophysical rigour.
- Economic growth
- Integrated assessment models
- Optimisation energy return on investment (EROI)