Research Title: Integrated Assessments
Funding Level (millions of dollars):
Committee on Environment and Natural Resources (CENR) Component:
(a) Subcommittee: Global Change Research Subcommittee (100%) Social and Economic Sciences Research Subcommittee
(b) Environmental Issue: Climate Change (100%)
(c) Research Activity: Assessment: Integrated Assessment (50%); Environmental Technologies: Commercialization (20%) Impacts & Adaptation: Socioeconomic systems (30%)
Environmental Sciences Division
Office of Health and Environmental Research
Office of Energy Research
U.S. Department of Energy
Washington, DC 20585
Point of Contact:
Research Goal: To support multiple integrated assessments of global climate change and to conduct research on important foundations for the assessments.
The research program supports external research projects at universities and other research institutions, including DOE National Energy Laboratories, through competitive, peer reviewed applications and grants (Energy Research) and directed awards (Policy Office). A guiding principle is the interest in a pluralistic approach to integrated assessment, relying in large measure on the academic community and the peer review process to develop consensus on assessment results and to help identify salient research areas.
There are two large items in the research program. First, three large integrated assessment modeling centers are funded for core support of their assessment programs. Second, a continuing research activity is the study of the innovation of new technology and its subsequent diffusion as it relates to the environment, including sustainable development. Emission/cost models are extremely sensitive to assumptions regarding technology parameters such as predictions of aggregate energy efficiency over time. This research will provide information to help understand the effectiveness of voluntary actions and to help resolve the apparent discrepancy between economic modelers who tend to believe that adopting newer technologies often implies significant overall cost and engineers who tend to believe that the newer technologies can be adopted quickly at little cost or even overall gain. The DOE Policy Office sponsors research on contingent valuation, which is a way to value impacts to non-market goods such as species loss. This research also applies to environmental issues other than global change.
The research program in Energy Research is tied closely to the needs and the research programs in the Policy Office. Through the NSTC committees and through workshops and other activities, the research program is tied to and complements other agency research and policy programs. The research program supports the IPCC process through modeling and author support.
1995: Preliminary results from three large-scale integrated assessment models are completed. 1996: Aerosols are included; some models have latitude-specific information. 1997: Damage functions are developed enough that GWP's include economic impact and the value of temporary sequestration of carbon can be imputed.
The core economic model in many integrated assessments can develop information on other important political issues such as job creation and international trade/competitiveness. Even though there is a close theoretical linkage between assessment efforts and the policy process, policy information needs are still not yet well-defined. To help resolve this, workshops were sponsored and conducted in 1994 to both better determine policy needs and to identify the appropriate subsequent framework for integrated assessment. Research is also being conducted by the academic community to elicit this information. Furthermore, the integrated assessment models that are supported by the research provide a means for evaluating the "value of information" in a model setting, which can help set priorities for the overall scientific research program.