Societal Transformations in Models for Energy and Climate Policy: The Ambitious Next Step

Evelina Trutnevyte, Léon F. Hirt, Nico Bauer, Aleh Cherp, Adam Hawkes, Oreane Y. Edelenbosch, Simona Pedde, Detlef P. van Vuuren

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Whether and how long-term energy and climate targets can be reached depend on a range of interlinked factors: technology, economy, environment, policy, and society at large. Integrated assessment models of climate change or energy-system models have limited representations of societal transformations, such as behavior of various actors, transformation dynamics in time, and heterogeneity across and within societies. After reviewing the state of the art, we propose a research agenda to guide experiments to integrate more insights from social sciences into models: (1) map and assess societal assumptions in existing models, (2) conduct empirical research on generalizable and quantifiable patterns to be integrated into models, and (3) build and extensively validate modified or new models. Our proposed agenda offers three benefits: interdisciplinary learning between modelers and social scientists, improved models with a more complete representation of multifaceted reality, and identification of new and more effective solutions to energy and climate challenges.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)423-433
Number of pages11
JournalOne Earth
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Dec 20

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary


  • climate change
  • energy system models
  • integrated assessment models
  • social sciences and humanities
  • societal transformations


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