MOOC

Massive Open On-line Course (MOOC)

The primary objective of the LOCOMOTION MOOC is to explore how enhanced integrated assessment models (IAMs) can aid in making policy choices that promote social and environmental sustainability. A particular emphasis will be placed on how WILIAM improves the coordination between the various components related to energy, resources, economy, society, and the environment.
This improvement involves better data handling, policy evaluation, and scenario analysis, along with the systematic and dynamic modeling of key environmental, economic, social, technological, and biophysical factors. Specific aims are the following:

  • Acquiring the skills to utilize diagnostic and scenario assessment tools for the analysis of a shift towards a sustainable low-carbon society.
  • Developing integrated policy analysis to evaluate environmental and social sustainability.
  • Improving simulation and analysis methods with the Vensim software.
  • Fostering multi-disciplinarity in policy analysis and design.

MOOC contents:

MODULE: SYSTEM DYNAMICS INTRODUCTION AND MODELING

– Introduction to the problem. The global climate is heating up. Species are dying out at unprecedented speed. Many of the world’s finite resources are being overexploited. At the center of this worldwide crisis stands humanity. Citizens are demanding change, while civil society and policymakers are seeking sustainable alternatives for a low-carbon, net zero-emissions future. How can we evaluate the ramifications and consequences of the various options so as to make informed and wise decisions?

– Introduction to the course. The WILIAM model is an Integrated Assessment Model (IAMs), which links socioeconomic, energy and environmental models into a single modeling framework to assess the feasibility and effectiveness of different sustainability policy options. In this MOOC you learn how to use WILIAM as a robust, usable and transparent (open source) diagnostic and scenario assessment tool for analyzing a sustainable transition towards a low-carbon society.

– Introduction to IAMs. Although Integrated Assessment Models (IAMs) have advanced significantly in recent years, the very structure and techniques of currently existing IAMs pose great barriers to the modelling of dynamic, complex, biophysically grounded and social futures.

– Introduction to modelling and simulation with system dynamics. A promising method to lower these barriers is to use System Dynamics to build IAMs, as was done in the development of WILIAM.

– Dynamic models, feedbacks, stocks and flows, dynamic patterns. Structure and behaviour of dynamic systems. System Dynamics enables modelers to combine variables of different character (economic and technological, but also biophysical and social), to build models based on the principle of modularity, and to integrate various modeling techniques, all of which facilitates interdisciplinary work. Other strengths of the approach include the clear graphical representation of causal relationships, the exploration of dynamic changes of the socio-ecological system over time and the modelling of non-linear causality. The broad and flexible range of tools System Dynamics offers will facilitate the adaptation of WILIAM to fit the requirements of new scenarios and policies that will be developed in the project.

– Introduction to WILIAM. WILIAM is a system dynamics simulation model that is equipped to capture complex feedback loops and nonlinear relationships between different social, economic and environmental variables. It has been designed to explore the social, economic and environmental implications of long-term socio-ecological transition pathways, taking into account planetary limits and socio-economic constraints.

– General overview of the model, modules and interactions. WILIAM consists of a set of fully-integrated modules of the earth and human systems (economy and finance, energy, materials, land, water and climate, society and demographics). The economic module of WILIAM is a Dynamic Econometric Multi-regional Input-Output model which represents the interactions between firms, households and governments. It covers 62 sectors, with a detailed representation of decarbonisation-related sectors such as mining industries, transportation, and energy transformation. The environmental module includes land use, water and climate, and represents the interactions of these biophysical dimensions with
energy and economy. The energy modules includ renewable and fossil energy generation and transmission capacities, taking into account intermittencies, as well as a submodule on the use and availability of critical minerals and other material resources. The society module models demographic dynamics, including migration flows and education, and uses the human development index as a measure of human well-being.

Module videos:

Also available on Youtube

Module materials:

Presentations and laboratory files

File
Lab_day1: System dynamics and feedback loops modeling in VENSIM – David Cano Ortiz (UNIPI)
1 15 downloads
LOCOMOTION Massive Open On-line Course (MOOC) – Simone D’Alessandro (UNIPI)
1 10 downloads
Introduction to the WILIAM model – Iñigo Capellán-Pérez (UVa, GEEDS)
1 12 downloads
IAMs and System Dynamics – Luis Javier Miguel (UVa, GEEDS)
1 10 downloads

    MODULE: ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY

    This module will focus on the following main topics: energy resources, resource reserves, TRE, need for minerals from renewables. It provides a comprehensive understanding of material and hydrocarbon models and their applications in the context of low-carbon transitions. It will be structured as follows:

    – It begins by focusing on hydrocarbon models. Participants will gain insights into WILIAM and its integrated modules, which represent the resources, reserves, supply, demand, and prices of oil, coal, and gas. Through expert-led video lectures, learners will explore the intricate relationship between macroeconomics, energy systems, and hydrocarbon dynamics. They will examine how pricing mechanisms, demand-supply gaps, and investments impact hydrocarbon production, resource availability, and economic outcomes. The module will also highlight the influence of hydrocarbon prices on consumption, investment, and global dynamics, providing a comprehensive framework for analyzing long-term climate change scenarios.

    – In the second part of the module, the focus shifts to material models within the low-carbon transition. Learners will gain a deep understanding of the role of metals and critical minerals in clean energy technologies. The video lectures will cover topics such as supply-demand dynamics, ore grades, extraction requirements, refining processes, and their economic implications. Participants will explore the relationships between metal prices, consumption patterns, and the feasibility of low-carbon scenarios. The module will also delve into uranium availability and its impact on nuclear utilization and capacity expansion. Through interactive exercises, learners will apply their knowledge to analyze material requirements for specific green energy technologies.

    – Land modelling, the role of land use in the energy transition, land use competition issues, and global trade of land use products. The Land module is in charge of allocating the land among several uses (rainfed and irrigated cropland, managed forest, primary forest, and tree plantations, grasslands, urban, solar land for energy, and other uses) by taking the demands for land use changes coming from the population demand for food (diets and land products demand sub-module), for urban land (land-use sub-module), and for solar energy or for biomass (energy module). It uses signals such as the shortage of land products and energies that allow it to calculate the land stress for several uses and also calculates the loss of agricultural land due to sea level rise.

    – Water demand and supply. The Water submodule depends on the water demand and water availability to compute the water stress in the future climate. We computed the relation between precipitation and evapotranspiration, that influences the available water, depending on the radiative forcing. This submodule has links with economy, population, energy and land submodules.

    – Human interference in the climate system, Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) emissions, and climate modelling in IAMs. The Climate submodule simulates the cycles of the main greenhouse gases (GHG) according to the emissions and absorptions coming from the rest of the submodules, including estimated land use, land use change and agriculture emissions. This allows us to obtain the variation of the concentration of these GHGs and its effects on radiative forcing and the mean global temperature. Climate change impacts on global sea level rise and in ocean acidification are also estimated. Finally, regional temperature value is obtained, and specific biophysical climate change impacts on 1) water availability, 2) land use and 3) crop yields are estimated. Additionally, we had the probability of crossing several tipping points, with more emphasis on the AMOC weakening, including some possible consequences in the northern hemisphere climate.

    – Introduction to Energy Modelling: Energy stands at the core of our modern society, and fossil energy consumption is the major source of GHG emissions, so transitioning to a post-fossil energy system is one of the obvious policy choices to address climate change. The introduction will tackle the basics of energy statistics, the energy conversion chain and different types of energy models.

    – Overview of WILIAM energy module: Overview of the most important variables and feedback of the energy module with other modules; Overview and description of the main sub-modules (Energy End-Use, transformation, capacity, variability management).

    – Main energy policies: Overview of the currently implemented policies; Demonstration of model mechanics

    Module videos:

    Also available on Youtube

    Module materials:

    Presentations and laboratory files

    File
    Lab_day2: The environment module – David Cano Ortiz (UNIPI)
    1 7 downloads
    WILIAM Energy Module – Lukas Eggler (Austrian Energy Agency)
    1 8 downloads
    The WILIAM Materials module – Ole van Allen (Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences)
    1 5 downloads
    Environmental module. MODELLING. – Margarita Mediavilla (GEEDS, UVa), Noelia Ferreras (CARTIF), Tomás Calheiros (FC.ID)
    1 6 downloads

      MODULE: SOCIAL SUSTAINABILITY

      Theoretical explanation of the economic module of WILIAM (main features of the WILIAM economic module). At the core of WILIAM economic module lies a dynamic econometric multi-regional Input-Output model that has been extended by endogenous final demand and by mutual feedbacks between quantities and prices. WILIAM comprises a high level of disaggregation of economic sectors (62 industries), households (60 types) and regions (35) and captures the interplay between consumer demand, induced investment, government and exports demand, on the one side, and production and income generation and distribution on the other. The model has New Keynesian features, as markets are not generally cleared by the price mechanism, but effective demand under supply constraints determines the outcome for the different industries. The macroeconomic IO model in WILIAM is especially designed for incorporating feedbacks between the economy and nature, in particular resources constraints and climate change impacts

      – Conceptualising Society and Demography (Social and Demographic Indicators): Consequences of climate change and energy transition in the society: general presentation and major challenges. This module outlines why and how people are represented in Integrated Assessment Models (IAMs) and sets out the need for improved inclusion of society and demography. Until now most IAMs have included humanity within the economy. However, people are the conduit through which the economy and environment interact. Therefore any model which does not (meaningfully) include people does not fully represent the system.

      – Identification of the variables explaining the dynamics (population-health education-migration-social indicators). This module describes how to better represent humanity by looking at two closely related spheres. Demography considers the size and composition of the population. An improved demographic understanding in WILIAM with an endogenous population is vital as the scale and make-up of the population has implications for how the economy and society interact and the demands placed upon the environment. On the other hand, the economy and environment also condition demography, through their impacts on
      demographic indicators such as life expectancy. This suggests the need to investigate different aspects of society. The wellbeing, health and migration of people also affect the economy and environment and in turn, the form of transition taken can also have an effect on society. In so doing, WILIAM will contribute to humanising IAMS.

      Module videos:

      Also available on Youtube

      Module materials:

      Presentations and laboratory files

      File
      Lab_day3: Economics and System Dynamics in Vensim – Guilherme Spinato Morlin (University of Pisa)
      1 7 downloads
      WILIAM Economy Module – Iñaki Arto (BC3)
      1 4 downloads
      Inequality and Gini in WILIAM – Guilherme Spinato Morlin (University of Pisa)
      1 4 downloads
      Demography and Society – Robert Oakes (UNU-EHS)
      1 6 downloads

        MODULE: SIMULATION BY TOOLKIT

        – Presentation of the four scenarios parameterized for WILIAM in the LOCOMOTION project. A baseline scenario, which assumes a continuation of past trends, and three policy-action scenarios: Green Growth, Green Deal and Postgrowth.

        – Paths towards sustainability, are they possible? Is green growth feasible? The policy action scenarios have shared environmental objectives (i.e. climate, land, water, energy and mineral depletion), but differ in their socio-economic goals (economic growth objectives, social well-being, equity and participation). Different policies are modeled per scenario in pursuit of the objectives. Simulation results are able to pinpoint objectives which are incompatible or unfeasible due to biophysical and technical limits.

        – The Model Analyzer is a desktop application, which allows users to configure scenarios and run them using the WILIAM model. There are two scenario options to chose from: the Full scenario, which allows a degree of parametrization similar to that of the original WILIAM model, and the Simplified scenario which, as the name implies, corresponds to an attempt to make the scenario configuration easier. In both cases, default values for all scenario parameters are provided, which allows users to focus exclusively on those they are interested in. The expected target audience for this application are modellers and experts on the energy transition, and policy makers including their advisors.

        – The Global Sustainability Crossroads II Game is a cooperative and social role-playing game played in groups using electronic devices thanks to a web implementation of the tool. Designed for the educational community, the main idea behind the Crossroads II Game is to raise awareness about the climate transition and streamline player interaction in decision-making on the implementation of climate change policies through gamification. 

        – The Model Explorer is a user-friendly and easy-to-use web application to explore WILIAM without needing to be a modelling expert. With reduced functionality, its main goal is to increase the awareness of civil society in terms of climate change, helping in the definition of more sustainable future scenarios.
        – How does it work? Demonstration on the use of each tool and how you can implement your own scenarios. 2-3 minutes allocated for each tool presenting the general aspects to parametrize policies and visualize results. We will include where you can find the tools.

        – Main assumptions for the tools development (simplified scenario), final indicators and results from different configured scenarios. Data download, graphs and how you can create, save and visualize scenarios.

        – Implemented policies, parameterization methods and available policy options.

        The project work will be introduced in the final lab of the course, where participants are expected to implement notions and tool knowledge acquired during the lectures. In particular they will configure and analyze policy scenarios, making evaluations of results from an interdisciplinary perspective. The course should have enabled trainees to utilize WILIAM for a comprehensive assessment of the ecological transition, including the evaluation of alternative policy scenarios and the  consideration of economic, ecological, and social outcomes. Trainees can also choose to work divided into groups or individually.

        Module videos:

        Also available on Youtube

        Module materials:

        Presentations and laboratory files

        File
        Lab_day4: Policies and Project Work – Simone D’Alessandro (UNIPI)
        1 4 downloads
        The WILIAM toolkit – Iván Ramos (CARTIF), Roger Samsó (CREAF)
        1 5 downloads
        Baseline and Policy scenarios – Iñigo Capellán-Pérez (UVa, GEEDS)
        1 4 downloads

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