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IMAGE has been used for a variety of purposes and studies as shown in the following projects/ studies/ applications. The set is grouped by application/project purpose.

The results of some projects are available via a User Support System (USS), see the download page.

Input to global integrated assessments of environmental issues

Beyond 2015 (2009) project IMAGE role: The GISMO model is used to make a comprehensive and consistent assessment of long-term (2015 and 2030) development dynamics and the implications for MDG achievement. MDGs analysed include poverty and inequality, education, access to food, water and energy, and child mortality, as well as the role of the environment.
Summary: More than a billion people live in poverty, without adequate food, safe drinking water or clean energy. Aimed at providing basic quality of life, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are leading on the agenda for development policies. Although substantial progress has been made over the last 15 year, the report shows this to be insufficient for achieving all goals in all regions by 2015. Many of the goals will not even be achieved by 2030. Reducing child mortality by two-thirds seems to be the most difficult target, requiring substantial additional policy efforts.
PBL, 2009
CD-LINKS IMAGE role: IMAGE is one of the IAMs in this multi-model Horizon 2020 research project.
Summary: The CD-LINKS project has four overarching goals:

(i) to gain an improved understanding of the linkages between climate change policies (mitigation/adaptation) and multiple sustainable development objectives,

(ii) to broaden the evidence base in the area of policy effectiveness by exploring past and current policy experiences,

(iii) to develop the next generation of globally consistent, national low-carbon development pathways, and

(iv) to establish a research network and capacity building platform in order to leverage knowledge-exchange among institutions from Europe and other key players within the G20.

CD-LINKS combines multiple streams of research – empirical analysis, model enhancement and scenario development – to achieve its multiple objectives.
Global Environmental Outlook - GEO3 (2002) project IMAGE role: The GEO outlooks focused on environment for human well-being as the central theme linking environment and development. IMAGE contributed to the energy outlook, and calculated the land-use change and climate consequences of the four updated GEO scenarios.
Summary: Global Environment Outlook (GEO) is a consultative, participatory process that builds capacity for conducting integrated environmental assessments for reporting on the state, trends and outlooks of the environment. GEO is also a series of products that informs environmental decision-making and aims to facilitate the interaction between science and policy.
Global Environmental Outlook - GEO4 (2007) project IMAGE role: The GEO outlooks focused on environment for human well-being as the central theme linking environment and development. IMAGE contributed to the energy outlook, and calculated the land-use change and climate consequences of the four updated GEO scenarios.
Summary: Global Environment Outlook (GEO) is a consultative, participatory process that builds capacity for conducting integrated environmental assessments for reporting on the state, trends and outlooks of the environment.
Kok et al., 2009
Global Land Outlook 1 Van der Esch et al., 2017
Global Land Outlook 2 Van der Esch et al., 2021
IPCC SRES (2000) project IMAGE role: The SRES scenarios were elaborated by IMAGE 2.0
Summary: The SRES team defined four narrative storylines, labelled A1, A2, B1 and B2, describing the relationships between the forces driving greenhouse gas and aerosol emissions and their evolution during the 21st century for large world regions and globally . Each storyline represents different demographic, social, economic, technological, and environmental developments that diverge in increasingly irreversible ways.
IPCC, 2000
Millennium Ecosystem Assessment - MA (2005) project IMAGE role: Assessment of four global scenarios on the development of ecosystem services up to 2050. The IMAGE framework was used to focus on the role of ecosystem services to support human development.
Summary: The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment project assessed the consequences of ecosystem change for human well-being. From 2001 to 2005, the MA involved the work of more than 1,360 experts worldwide. Their findings provide a state-of-the-art scientific appraisal of the condition and trends in the world’s ecosystems and the services they provide, as well as the scientific basis for action to conserve and use them sustainably.
MA, 2005
OECD Environmental Outlook to 2030 (2008) project IMAGE role: IMAGE was used to develop the environmental baseline according to the economic projections of the OECD economic model ENV Linkages, and to analyse selected policy intervention cases.
Summary: The OECD Environmental Outlook to 2030 provides analyses of economic and environmental trends to 2030, and simulations of policy actions to address the key challenges. Without new policies, we risk irreversibly damaging the environment and the natural resource base needed to support economic growth and well-being. The costs of policy inaction are high.
OECD, 2008
OECD Environmental Outlook to 2050 (2012) project IMAGE role: IMAGE was used to develop the environmental baseline according to the economic projections of the OECD economic model ENV Linkages, and to analyse selected policy intervention cases.
Summary: The Environmental Outlook to 2050 looks ahead to the year 2050 to ascertain what demographic and economic trends might mean for the environment. It concludes that urgent action is needed now, so that the significant costs of inaction can be avoided, both in economic and human terms.
OECD, 2012
Roads from Rio+20 (2012) project IMAGE role: Alternative scenarios were explored with IMAGE to reach international development and environment targets, such as halting biodiversity loss and limiting climate change. In reaching these targets, alternative pathways were assumed for globally coordinated or regionally differentiated strategies, by either relying primarily on technology solutions or combining these with changes in dominant consumer preferences and behaviour (diets, transport mode).
Summary: Roads from Rio+20 analyses how combinations of technological measures and changes in consumption patterns could contribute to achieving a set of sustainability objectives, taking into account the interlinkages between them. The potential exists for achieving all of the objectives.
PBL, 2012

Global sector and topical assessments of biodiversity, climate, and energy and bioenergy

Global Energy Assessment - GEA (2012): IMAGE role: Exploration of different normative energy futures. IMAGE was used to supplement the work presented by the MESSAGE model from IIASA.
Summary: The Global Energy Assessment (GEA) defines a new global energy policy agenda – one that transforms the way society thinks about, uses, and delivers energy. Involving specialists from a range of disciplines, industry groups, and policy areas, GEA research aims to facilitate equitable and sustainable energy services for all, in particular the two billion people who currently lack access to clean, modern energy.
GEA, 2012
Global Nutrients from Watersheds - NEWS project IMAGE role: preparation of IMAGE data on global nutrient surface balances for the UNESCO-Intergovernmental Oceanographic Committee NEWS project. Seitzinger et al., 2005, Seitzinger et al., 2010
IPCC Assessment Report - AR4 (2007) IMAGE role: IMAGE/TIMER/FAIR models were used to explore comprehensive global mitigation scenarios, and IMAGE experts are contributing to the Working Group I, II, and III reports. Van Vuuren et al., 2007a
IPCC Assessment Report - AR5 (2014) IMAGE role: IMAGE/TIMER/FAIR models were used to explore comprehensive global mitigation scenarios, and IMAGE experts are contributing to the Working Group I, II, and III reports. Van Vuuren et al., 2007a
Representative Concentration Pathways - RCP (2009) IMAGE role: IMAGE was used to develop RCP2.6 and in coordinated work related to the overall development of the RCPs.
Summary: In May 2007 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) ask the international scientific community to develop a new set of climate scenarios for the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (AR5), expected to be published in 2013/2014. Four RCPs based on different radiative forcing levels were chosen from the literature. The RCP database, which documents the emissions, concentrations, and land-cover change projections based on these four RCPs, is intended to provide input to climate models. They will also facilitate and expedite future climate change assessments across the integrated assessment community.
Van Vuuren et al., 2012
Rethinking Biodiversity Strategies (2010) project IMAGE role: Building on earlier biodiversity assessments, the IMAGE framework was used in assessing options to reduce pressure on biodiversity from human activities in addition to the more commonly applied conservation measures.
Summary: The mere protection of valuable nature areas, although still necessary, will not be sufficient for reducing biodiversity loss. To strongly reduce the rate of global biodiversity loss in the coming decades, structural changes in consumption and production are needed. A reduction in meat consumption would be of great benefit. In addition, changes are needed especially in agriculture, forestry, fishery and in the supply of energy.
PBL, 2010
Shared Socioeconomic Pathways - SSP (2014) project IMAGE role: Building on the RCP work, integrated assessment models including IMAGE are being used in developing Shared Socio-Economic Reference Pathways (SSPs) together with the RCPs as the backbone of a new generation of scenarios for climate change research.
Summary: Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSPs) define five possible paths that human societies could follow over the next century. The pathways are part of a new cooperative research framework that is expected to improve interdisciplinary analysis and assessment of climate change, its impacts, and the options societies have for mitigation and adaptation.
Moss et al., 2010, Van Vuuren et al., 2012, Van Vuuren et al., 2017b
The Protein Puzzle (2011) project IMAGE role: This PBL study assessed environmental issues related to consumption and production of animal products and other protein-rich foodstuffs for the EU-27 and on a global scale. IMAGE was used to analyse options to reduce environmental impacts from animal products via changes of diets and in the supply chain.
Summary: Average consumption of meat, dairy and fish has increased strongly over the last fifty years in the European Union. Today’s consumption is twice the world average. Current preferences of European consumers lead to a range of negative impacts, such as extensive land use (also outside Europe), biodiversity loss and human health risks.
PBL, 2011

Strategic EU policy support

EU Resource efficiency (2011) project IMAGE role: IMAGE was used in assessing prospects for resource efficiency enhancements in the five key areas of energy, land use, phosphorus, fresh water, and fish stocks. Van den Berg et al., 2011
Eururalis (2007) project IMAGE role: Assessment of alternatives to the current EU Common Agricultural Policies (CAP) to support discussions on reforms by and between Member States. IMAGE was used to assess future prospects for agriculture and the rural areas in the EU-25.
Summary: What will happen to Europe in the forthcoming time? How will it impact on European agriculture and rural areas? What kind of threats and opportunities for socio-cultural, economic and ecological values can we expect? How do global issues (climate change, competing claims, world food prices, food security, sustainability) shape agriculture inside the EU and other regions in the world? What are adequate international policies and what is their effectiveness? The Eururalis consortium has developed a discussion-oriented tool that addresses these challenges for Europe in detail, and with the focus on the global dimension becoming more important.
Eickhout et al., 2007
GLIMP (2012) project IMAGE role: To support strategic orientation, IMAGE was used in identifying new and emerging aspects of under-exposed problems in other world regions as a result of activities and proposed policies in the EU-27. Kram et al., 2012
Greenhouse Gas Reduction Policy - GRP (2005) project IMAGE role: IMAGE including TIMER and FAIR was used to explore climate change abatement targets and regimes in support of EU policy making (European Commission, 2005); European Commission, 2005
International climate policy (DG Climate Action) IMAGE role: The FAIR model supported by other components of IMAGE is used to analyse international climate policy in a series of projects for EU directorate DG Climate Action.

Model comparison projects

AMPERE (2014) IMAGE role: IMAGE was one of the IAMs in this model comparison project
Summary: The project AMPERE explored mitigation pathways and associated mitigation costs under technology and policy limitations and evaluated model differences and the relationship between model results and historical trends. The AMPERE project was a collaborative effort among 22 institutions in Europe, Asia and North America using 17 energy economy and integrated assessment models with diverse strengths and structures. The project focused on four central areas:

(i) The role of uncertainty about the climate response to anthropogenic forcing on the remaining carbon budget (ii) the role of technology availability, innovation and the timing of mitigation in the energy sector (iii) the role of internationally fragmented climate policies and potential first mover coalitions (iv) decarbonisation scenarios for Europe, accounting for the impact of global climate policy dynamics

AMPERE was coordinated by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (Project chair: Ottmar Edenhofer; Project Director: Elmar Kriegler). The steering committee of the project included Detlef van Vuuren (Universiteit Utrecht), Keywan Riahi (IIASA), Pantelis Capros (ICCS) and Valentina Bosetti (FEEM). Ampere was funded through the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) under grant agreement n° 265139.

AMPERE started in February 2011 and concluded with a final public conference in January 2014.
AgMIP and ISI-MIP project IMAGE role: IMAGE was used in two model inter-comparison projects to assess climate change impacts projected by a range of models for IPCC 5th Assessment Report (AR5). Under the auspices of AgMIP and ISI-MIP, the effect of climate change on crop yields was assessed in a global gridded crop model comparison that included the new IMAGE crop model LPJmL as a stand-alone model, and GAEZ-IMAGE, the crop model in IMAGE 2.4. The AgMIP comparison of agro-economic models included the IMAGE agro-economic model, MAGNET. Von Lampe et al., 2014, Nelson et al., 2014, Rosenzweig et al., 2013
EMF30 IMAGE role: One of the models used for scenario analysis.
Summary: The 30th energy modeling forum (EMF30) is aimed at understanding the climatic role of short-lived climate forcers (SLCFs), such as methane, black carbon and hydrofluorocarbons, both in mitigation and reference cases.
Harmsen et al., 2019a, Harmsen et al., 2019b
Energy Modelling Forum - EMF IMAGE role: IMAGE has contributed to several studies, such as EMF-22 on global and regional mitigation strategies for greenhouse gas emissions, and the Asian Modelling Exercise (AME) focusing on climate emissions and mitigation in the Asian region, comprising global and regional/national model analyses.
LIMITS (2014) IMAGE role: IMAGE was one of the IAMs in this multi-model project.
Summary: The FP7 research project LIMITS examined a series of critical questions which are especially relevant for climate policy making:
  • What is the economic, technical and political feasibility of attaining stringent climate policies?
  • How can we jump start investments and innovation into clean energy technologies?
  • What is the role of policies in promoting mitigation and adaptation, recognizing the diversity of regional and national interests?
  • What is the role of technologies and their advancements to meet the change in energy infrastructure?
By using state-of-the-art methodological instruments to assess climate policies, LIMITS aims at carrying out a rigorous assessment of what a stringent climate policy entails, and what is needed to overcome major impediments.


ADVANCE project IMAGE role: The IMAGE team led the ADVANCE work package which improved the representation of energy demand in IAMs. In addition, IMAGE participated in all other work packages, covering topics like: model documentation, heterogeneity, subsidies, taxes, uncertainty, technological learning, renewable integration, life cycle assessment, water energy nexus, infrastructure and policy relevance.
Summary: The ADVANCE project improved the representations of complex system interactions and thoroughly validated model behavior in order to increase confidence in climate policy assessments.
ADVANCE publications, Edelenbosch et al., 2017b
Climate Changes Spatial Planning IMAGE role: Dutch research project co-financed two PhD studies at Wageningen UR/Alterra on agricultural intensity (Neumann, 2010) and on upscaling crop growth modelling (Bussel, 2011). In addition, another PBL/Alterra co-funded PhD study contributed to hydrological modelling for IMAGE (Biemans, 2012). Biemans, 2012, Neumann, 2010, Van Bussel, 2011
Dutch National Science Foundation - NWO IMAGE role: Several PhD and Post Doc studies have been funded including EC-IMAGE (exploring linking IMAGE and the complex climate model EC-Earth, in cooperation with Utrecht University and the Dutch Meteorological institute KNMI); Global Land-Use Systems (developing a new land use dynamics model for IMAGE, with VU University Amsterdam); and Planetary Boundaries for Fresh Water (using IMAGE to explore the boundaries for sustainable water use in cooperation with Wageningen University).
EU Seventh Framework Programme - FP7 IMAGE role: IMAGE has been used and further developed in several FP7 projects, including PEGASOS, COMBINE, RESPONSES, ADVANCE, FOODSECURE, AMPERE, LIMITS, PERSEUS, LUC4C and PATHWAYS.
Knowledge Infrastructure Sustainable Biomass - KISB IMAGE role: A joint research project of the IMAGE team, LEI and Utrecht University to explore future biomass supply, funding three PhD students.
PBL research IMAGE role: IMAGE was used to investigate areas of specific interest to policy makers and the wider public, such as contribution of dietary changes to climate policy (Stehfest et al., 2009), the future of aquaculture and environmental consequences (Bouwman et al., 2011; Bouwman et al., 2013b) and the potential for bioenergy and carbon capture storage (CCS), and geo-engineering as part of mitigation strategies (Van Vuuren and Stehfest, 2013). Van Vuuren and Stehfest, 2013, Bouwman et al., 2013b, Stehfest et al., 2009, Bouwman et al., 2011
PBL uncertainty analysis IMAGE role: Several uncertainty analyses were carried out using the IMAGE energy model TIMER, including a systematic Monte Carlo type analysis (Van Vuuren, 2007), and experiments to identify the uncertainty related to model calibration (Van Ruijven et al., 2010b). Van Ruijven et al., 2010b, Van Vuuren et al., 2007a