I am sure, I could make a list of thousand interesting problems, but I will just discuss two. The first one is decision making and the idea that we—as experts on a certain domain-cannot just provide information and expect users to manage what they can do with that. We are the ones who know how this information has been produced, we know their limits, we know what could be done and what could not be done with our data. So we have to be in a close relation with the users and this a huge challenge—not only in our field, it is the same for medical studies or biology. We start realizing that science should get closer to decision making. But this is difficult: we want to get closer to decision making but the only ones who are legitimated to make decisions are politicians and we should not try to make decisions instead of them just because we are experts. We need to be in close contact to politics while remaining independent. But the closer you work with politicians, the more difficult it is to remain independent. I think this is really about research strategy: How do we manage our relationship with society and decision making? I suggest, we need to go a step back and do research on that point itself.
The second topic, I am interested in is from the field of economics. Most of the models, used today to assess the costs of mitigating climate change, are based on very simplified worlds. In most of these models, you have no unemployment. In most of the models, developing countries are just treated as developed countries with a lower productivity, without taking into account the institutional situation etc. I think the fact that these models are that simple, explains why decision makers remain in doubt when specialists repeat all the time that the costs will be limited. They are concerned about all the cost we maybe do not see with our models. Again, I think we need to take into account the fact that the world is not perfect, we know that economic models are still very limited. They demonstrated their failure several times in the past, most recently with the economic crisis. So we have to be modest and avoid providing only numbers to decision makers. We cannot completely trust these numbers, our models are too simple. We need to understand better, what the mechanisms are at play and how to use this information to make decisions. We should not only say: The costs are only 0.5% of GDP, so lets go and do it! We need to do better than that.
To finish with something positive: we have a lot of problems in our countries, in our societies, in our economies. Unemployment, poverty, inequalities, just to name a few. I think that by bringing these problems into the context of environmental considerations, we could develop policies that help not only to solve environmental issues but also bring benefits in terms of employment or poverty reduction. We need to broaden the analysis and take also the other problems on board and try to find integrated solutions.
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