A new EU-backed research project is seeking civil society and policy stakeholders. The project needs them to help ensure that its scenarios for a low-carbon future meet their needs and are useful to them.

Humanity is facing an unprecedented array of environmental threats, including a climate emergency, mass extinction and collapsing ecosystems. In Europe and around the world, a growing chorus is demanding solutions, and fast.

The EU is formulating a European Green Deal and has committed itself to becoming climate neutral by 2050.

But what does accomplishing these goals require, what are the various options available and what are the future outcomes and consequences of these choices for society, the economy and the environment?

Answering these questions requires the development of sophisticated models. And this is exactly what the EU-funded ‘Low-carbon society: an enhanced modelling tool for the transition to sustainability’ (LOCOMOTION), a four-year project which began this summer, is doing.

Building on the results and expanding the scope of its predecessor ‘Modelling the Energy Development under Environmental And Socioeconomic constraints’ (MEDEAS), LOCOMOTION, in which the EEB is involved, is developing Integrated Assessment Models (IAMs) to evaluate the socioeconomic and environmental impact of different policy options in order to help society make informed decisions about the transition to a sustainable, low-carbon future.

Models are mathematical representations of reality and can be constructed for environmental, social, economic and other systems. An integrated model combines several different models that influence one another into an interconnected whole.

The missing links

Drawing on the expertise of modellers, systems experts and other academics, LOCOMOTION aims to develop a set of robust, transparent, accessible, useable and reliable IAMs.

The project is also working to tackle a major shortcoming of many existing models, which do not represent the entire reality of the situation, thereby assessing the sustainability and feasibility of future scenarios inaccurately. “This is because most economic models are blind to or do not take adequate account of the natural limits and limitations of the biosphere,” explains Margarita Mediavilla of the University of Valladolid, the lead partner in the project. “We are developing IAMs that make allowance for the finite nature of mineral and fossil fuel reserves and, above all, the natural limitations of ecosystems.”

Including all the economic, technological and biological factors and limitations, as well as the complex interactions between them, is crucial to empower policymakers and civil society to choose between the various technological and policy options on offer.

Staking a claim

To ensure that LOCOMOTION’s models meet the needs of stakeholders, the project will involve civil society, policymakers and other parties right from the word go.

“We are developing our models with the end users very much in mind. We are striving to co-design these tools with the involvement of stakeholder to make them user friendly and relevant. We also want to find out about user preferences and priorities when defining policy scenarios,” notes Luis Javier Miguel González, LOCOMOTION’s lead researcher.

“We are also developing a simple web interface and a more complex model ‘explorer’ for policymakers and civil society to enable them to use the model for their own analysis,” he adds.

Those interested in helping shape the features and direction of LOCOMOTION can join its Project Stakeholder Board (PSB) or its Scientific Advisory Board (SAB).

For more information, contact:

Khaled Diab at khaled.diab@eeb.org

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