IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/arx/papers/1506.07432.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Modelling complex systems of heterogeneous agents to better design sustainability transitions policy

Author

Listed:
  • J. -F. Mercure
  • H. Pollitt
  • A. M. Bassi
  • J. E Vi~nuales
  • N. R. Edwards

Abstract

This article proposes a fundamental methodological shift in the modelling of policy interventions for sustainability transitions in order to account for complexity (e.g. self-reinforcing mechanism arising from multi-agent interactions) and agent heterogeneity (e.g. differences in consumer and investment behaviour). We first characterise the uncertainty faced by climate policy-makers and its implications for investment decision-makers. We then identify five shortcomings in the equilibrium and optimisation-based approaches most frequently used to inform sustainability policy: (i) their normative, optimisation-based nature, (ii) their unrealistic reliance on the full-rationality of agents, (iii) their inability to account for mutual influences among agents and capture related self-reinforcing (positive feedback) processes, (iv) their inability to represent multiple solutions and path-dependency, and (v) their inability to properly account for agent heterogeneity. The aim of this article is to introduce an alternative modelling approach based on complexity dynamics and agent heterogeneity, and explore its use in four key areas of sustainability policy, namely (1) technology adoption and diffusion, (2) macroeconomic impacts of low-carbon policies, (3) interactions between the socio-economic system and the natural environment, and (4) the anticipation of policy outcomes. The practical relevance of the proposed methodology is discussed by reference to four applications: the diffusion of transport technology, the impact of low-carbon investment on income and employment, the management of cascading uncertainties, and the cross-sectoral impact of biofuels policies. The article calls for a fundamental methodological shift aligning the modelling of the socio-economic system with that of the climatic system, for a combined and realistic understanding of the impact of sustainability policies.

Suggested Citation

  • J. -F. Mercure & H. Pollitt & A. M. Bassi & J. E Vi~nuales & N. R. Edwards, 2015. "Modelling complex systems of heterogeneous agents to better design sustainability transitions policy," Papers 1506.07432, arXiv.org, revised Feb 2016.
  • Handle: RePEc:arx:papers:1506.07432
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://arxiv.org/pdf/1506.07432
    File Function: Latest version
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Mercure, J.-F. & Pollitt, H. & Chewpreecha, U. & Salas, P. & Foley, A.M. & Holden, P.B. & Edwards, N.R., 2014. "The dynamics of technology diffusion and the impacts of climate policy instruments in the decarbonisation of the global electricity sector," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 73(C), pages 686-700.
    2. Alastair Brown, 2014. "Adaptation and mitigation," Nature Climate Change, Nature, vol. 4(10), pages 860-860, October.
    3. A. Arneth & C. Brown & M. D. A. Rounsevell, 2014. "Global models of human decision-making for land-based mitigation and adaptation assessment," Nature Climate Change, Nature, vol. 4(7), pages 550-557, July.
    4. Ottmar Edenhofer, Kai Lessmann, Claudia Kemfert, Michael Grubb and Jonathan Kohler, 2006. "Induced Technological Change: Exploring its Implications for the Economics of Atmospheric Stabilization: Synthesis Report from the Innovation Modeling Comparison Project," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Special I), pages 57-108.
    5. Köhler, Jonathan & Whitmarsh, Lorraine & Nykvist, Björn & Schilperoord, Michel & Bergman, Noam & Haxeltine, Alex, 2009. "A transitions model for sustainable mobility," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(12), pages 2985-2995, October.
    6. Arthur, W Brian, 1989. "Competing Technologies, Increasing Returns, and Lock-In by Historical Events," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 99(394), pages 116-131, March.
    7. Axsen, Jonn & Mountain, Dean C. & Jaccard, Mark, 2009. "Combining stated and revealed choice research to simulate the neighbor effect: The case of hybrid-electric vehicles," Institute of Transportation Studies, Working Paper Series qt02n9j6cv, Institute of Transportation Studies, UC Davis.
    8. Maryse Labriet & Santosh Joshi & Marc Vielle & Philip Holden & Neil Edwards & Amit Kanudia & Richard Loulou & Frédéric Babonneau, 2015. "Worldwide impacts of climate change on energy for heating and cooling," Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, Springer, vol. 20(7), pages 1111-1136, October.
    9. Karmeshu & Bhargava, S. C. & Jain, V. P., 1985. "A rationale for law of technological substitution," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 137-141, February.
    10. Axsen, Jonn & Mountain, Dean C. & Jaccard, Mark, 2009. "Combining stated and revealed choice research to simulate the neighbor effect: The case of hybrid-electric vehicles," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 221-238, August.
    11. Piesse, Jenifer & Thirtle, Colin, 2009. "Three bubbles and a panic: An explanatory review of recent food commodity price events," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(2), pages 119-129, April.
    12. Jean-François Mercure, 2015. "An age structured demographic theory of technological change," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 25(4), pages 787-820, September.
    13. Daniel Kahneman & Amos Tversky, 2013. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision Under Risk," World Scientific Book Chapters, in: Leonard C MacLean & William T Ziemba (ed.), HANDBOOK OF THE FUNDAMENTALS OF FINANCIAL DECISION MAKING Part I, chapter 6, pages 99-127, World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    14. Ottmar Edenhofer , Brigitte Knopf, Terry Barker, Lavinia Baumstark, Elie Bellevrat, Bertrand Chateau, Patrick Criqui, Morna Isaac, Alban Kitous, Socrates Kypreos, Marian Leimbach, Kai Lessmann, Bertra, 2010. "The Economics of Low Stabilization: Model Comparison of Mitigation Strategies and Costs," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Special I).
    15. Malte Meinshausen & Nicolai Meinshausen & William Hare & Sarah C. B. Raper & Katja Frieler & Reto Knutti & David J. Frame & Myles R. Allen, 2009. "Greenhouse-gas emission targets for limiting global warming to 2 °C," Nature, Nature, vol. 458(7242), pages 1158-1162, April.
    16. Grubler, Arnulf & Nakicenovic, Nebojsa & Victor, David G., 1999. "Dynamics of energy technologies and global change," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 27(5), pages 247-280, May.
    17. Geels, Frank W., 2002. "Technological transitions as evolutionary reconfiguration processes: a multi-level perspective and a case-study," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 31(8-9), pages 1257-1274, December.
    18. Karolina Safarzyńska & Jeroen Bergh, 2010. "Evolutionary models in economics: a survey of methods and building blocks," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 20(3), pages 329-373, June.
    19. J. F. Mercure & H. Pollitt & U. Chewpreecha & P. Salas & A. Foley & P. B. Holden & N. R. Edwards, 2013. "Complexity, economic science and possible economic benefits of climate change mitigation policy," Papers 1310.4403, arXiv.org, revised Jan 2015.
    20. Mercure, Jean-François, 2012. "FTT:Power : A global model of the power sector with induced technological change and natural resource depletion," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 799-811.
    21. Stern,Nicholas, 2007. "The Economics of Climate Change," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521700801, November.
    22. Giraudet, Louis-Gaëtan & Guivarch, Céline & Quirion, Philippe, 2012. "Exploring the potential for energy conservation in French households through hybrid modeling," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(2), pages 426-445.
    23. Frank M. Bass, 1969. "A New Product Growth for Model Consumer Durables," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 15(5), pages 215-227, January.
    24. Claudia Tebaldi & Julie Arblaster, 2014. "Pattern scaling: Its strengths and limitations, and an update on the latest model simulations," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 122(3), pages 459-471, February.
    25. Terry Barker, Haoran Pan, Jonathan Kohler, Rachel Warren, and Sarah Winne, 2006. "Decarbonizing the Global Economy with Induced Technological Change: Scenarios to 2100 using E3MG," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Special I), pages 241-258.
    26. A. Arneth & C. Brown & M. D. A. Rounsevell, 2014. "Erratum: Global models of human decision-making for land-based mitigation and adaptation assessment," Nature Climate Change, Nature, vol. 4(8), pages 736-736, August.
    27. McLeay, Michael & Radia, Amar & Thomas, Ryland, 2014. "Money creation in the modern economy," Bank of England Quarterly Bulletin, Bank of England, vol. 54(1), pages 14-27.
    28. Rivers, Nic & Jaccard, Mark, 2006. "Useful models for simulating policies to induce technological change," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(15), pages 2038-2047, October.
    29. Detlef Vuuren & James Edmonds & Mikiko Kainuma & Keywan Riahi & John Weyant, 2011. "A special issue on the RCPs," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 109(1), pages 1-4, November.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Mercure, J.-F. & Pollitt, H. & Chewpreecha, U. & Salas, P. & Foley, A.M. & Holden, P.B. & Edwards, N.R., 2014. "The dynamics of technology diffusion and the impacts of climate policy instruments in the decarbonisation of the global electricity sector," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 73(C), pages 686-700.
    2. Mercure, Jean-François, 2018. "Fashion, fads and the popularity of choices: Micro-foundations for diffusion consumer theory," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 194-207.
    3. F. Knobloch & J. -F. Mercure, 2016. "The behavioural aspect of green technology investments: a general positive model in the context of heterogeneous agents," Papers 1603.06888, arXiv.org.
    4. Mercure, Jean-François & Salas, Pablo, 2013. "On the global economic potentials and marginal costs of non-renewable resources and the price of energy commodities," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 469-483.
    5. Knobloch, Florian & Pollitt, Hector & Chewpreecha, Unnada & Lewney, Richard & Huijbregts, Mark A.J. & Mercure, Jean-Francois, 2021. "FTT:Heat — A simulation model for technological change in the European residential heating sector," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 153(C).
    6. Li, Francis G.N. & Trutnevyte, Evelina & Strachan, Neil, 2015. "A review of socio-technical energy transition (STET) models," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 100(C), pages 290-305.
    7. J.-F. Mercure & A. Lam & S. Billington & H. Pollitt, 2018. "Integrated assessment modelling as a positive science: private passenger road transport policies to meet a climate target well below 2 ∘C," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 151(2), pages 109-129, November.
    8. Florian Knobloch & Hector Pollitt & Unnada Chewpreecha & Vassilis Daioglou & Jean-Francois Mercure, 2017. "Simulating the deep decarbonisation of residential heating for limiting global warming to 1.5C," Papers 1710.11019, arXiv.org, revised May 2018.
    9. Michael Grubb & Jean-Francois Mercure & Pablo Salas & Rutger-Jan Lange & Ida Sognnaes, 2018. "Systems Innovation, Inertia and Pliability: A mathematical exploration with implications for climate change abatement," Working Papers EPRG 1808, Energy Policy Research Group, Cambridge Judge Business School, University of Cambridge.
    10. Jean-François Mercure, 2015. "An age structured demographic theory of technological change," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 25(4), pages 787-820, September.
    11. Jean-Francois Mercure, 2012. "On the changeover timescales of technology transitions and induced efficiency changes: an overarching theory," Papers 1209.0424, arXiv.org.
    12. Sijm, Jos & Lehmann, Paul & Chewpreecha, Unnada & Gawel, Erik & Mercure, Jean-Francois & Pollitt, Hector & Strunz, Sebastian, 2014. "EU climate and energy policy beyond 2020: Are additional targets and instruments for renewables economically reasonable?," UFZ Discussion Papers 3/2014, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), Division of Social Sciences (ÖKUS).
    13. George A. Gonzalez, 2016. "Transforming Energy: Solving Climate Change with Technology Policy . New York : Cambridge University Press . 360 pages. ISBN 9781107614970, $29.99 paperback. Anthony Patt , 2015 ," Review of Policy Research, Policy Studies Organization, vol. 33(1), pages 111-113, January.
    14. Fox, Jacob & Axsen, Jonn & Jaccard, Mark, 2017. "Picking Winners: Modelling the Costs of Technology-specific Climate Policy in the U.S. Passenger Vehicle Sector," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 137(C), pages 133-147.
    15. Odenweller, Adrian, 2022. "Climate mitigation under S-shaped energy technology diffusion: Leveraging synergies of optimisation and simulation models," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 178(C).
    16. Shang, Linmei & Heckelei, Thomas & Gerullis, Maria K. & Börner, Jan & Rasch, Sebastian, 2021. "Adoption and diffusion of digital farming technologies - integrating farm-level evidence and system interaction," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 190(C).
    17. H. Pollitt & J. -F. Mercure, 2015. "The role of money and the financial sector in energy-economy models used for assessing climate policy," Papers 1512.02912, arXiv.org.
    18. Iyer, Gokul & Hultman, Nathan & Eom, Jiyong & McJeon, Haewon & Patel, Pralit & Clarke, Leon, 2015. "Diffusion of low-carbon technologies and the feasibility of long-term climate targets," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 90(PA), pages 103-118.
    19. Anna Creti & Alena Kotelnikova & Guy Meunier & Jean-Pierre Ponssard, 2018. "Defining the Abatement Cost in Presence of Learning-by-Doing: Application to the Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 71(3), pages 777-800, November.
    20. Mercure, Jean-François & Salas, Pablo, 2012. "An assessement of global energy resource economic potentials," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 322-336.

    More about this item

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:arx:papers:1506.07432. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: arXiv administrators (email available below). General contact details of provider: http://arxiv.org/ .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.