Sharing the Burdens of Climate Mitigation and Adaptation: Incorporating Fairness Perspectives into Policy Optimization Models

Żebrowski, P. ORCID:, Dieckmann, U. ORCID:, Brännström, Å., Franklin, O. ORCID:, & Rovenskaya, E. ORCID: (2022). Sharing the Burdens of Climate Mitigation and Adaptation: Incorporating Fairness Perspectives into Policy Optimization Models. Sustainability 14 (7) e3737. 10.3390/su14073737.

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Project: Our common future ocean in the Earth system – quantifying coupled cycles of carbon, oxygen, and nutrients for determining and achieving safe operating spaces with respect to tipping points (COMFORT, H2020 820989)


Mitigation of, and adaptation to, climate change can be addressed only through the collective action of multiple agents. The engagement of involved agents critically depends on their perception that the burdens and benefits of collective action are distributed fairly. Integrated Assessment Models (IAMs), which inform climate policies, focus on the minimization of costs and the maximization of overall utility, but they rarely pay sufficient attention to how costs and benefits are distributed among agents. Consequently, some agents may perceive the resultant model-based policy recommendations as unfair. In this paper, we propose how to adjust the objectives optimized within IAMs so as to derive policy recommendations that can plausibly be presented to agents as fair. We review approaches to aggregating the utilities of multiple agents into fairness-relevant social rankings of outcomes, analyze features of these rankings, and associate with them collections of properties that a model’s objective function must have to operationalize each of these rankings within the model. Moreover, for each considered ranking, we propose a selection of specific objective functions that can conveniently be used for generating this ranking in a model. Maximizing these objective functions within existing IAMs allows exploring and identifying climate polices to which multiple agents may be willing to commit.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: burden sharing; fairness; Pareto optimality; aggregating functions; policy optimization models; multi-objective optimization
Research Programs: Advancing Systems Analysis (ASA)
Advancing Systems Analysis (ASA) > Cooperation and Transformative Governance (CAT)
Advancing Systems Analysis (ASA) > Exploratory Modeling of Human-natural Systems (EM)
Advancing Systems Analysis (ASA) > Systemic Risk and Resilience (SYRR)
Biodiversity and Natural Resources (BNR)
Biodiversity and Natural Resources (BNR) > Agriculture, Forestry, and Ecosystem Services (AFE)
Depositing User: Luke Kirwan
Date Deposited: 23 Mar 2022 10:44
Last Modified: 23 Mar 2022 10:44

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