Enabling assessment of distributive justice through models for climate change planning: A review of recent advances and a research agenda

Bramka Arga Jafino*, Jan H. Kwakkel, Behnam Taebi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleScientificpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)
97 Downloads (Pure)


Models for supporting climate adaptation and mitigation planning, mostly in the form of Integrated Assessment Models, are poorly equipped for aiding questions related to fairness of adaptation and mitigation strategies, because they often disregard distributional outcomes. When evaluating policies using such models, the costs and benefits are typically aggregated across all actors in the system, and over the entire planning horizon. While a policy may be beneficial when considering the aggregate outcome, it can be harmful to some people, somewhere, at some point in time. The practice of aggregating over all actors and over time thus gives rise to problems of justice; it could also exacerbate existing injustices. While the literature discusses some of these injustices in ad-hoc and case specific manner, a systematic approach for considering distributive justice in model-based climate change planning is lacking. This study aims to fill this gap by proposing 11 requirements that an Integrated Assessment Model should meet in order to enable the assessment of distributive justice in climate mitigation and adaptation policies. We derive the requirements from various ethical imperatives stemming from the theory of distributive justice. More specifically, we consider both intra-generational (among people within one generation) and intergenerational (between generations) distributive justice. We investigate to what extent the 11 requirements are being met in recent model-based climate planning studies, and highlight several directions for future research to advance the accounting for distributive justice in model-based support for climate change planning. This article is categorized under: Climate, Nature, and Ethics > Climate Change and Global Justice.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere721
JournalWiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • adaptation and mitigation
  • distributive justice
  • integrated assessment model
  • planning
  • requirements


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