Modelling frameworks for low carbon cities: reality or science fiction?
Urban energy and carbon models are emerging as a vital tool for local authorities who wish to understand the greenhouse gas emissions of their city and how to reduce them. This paper reviews current practice in this field and asks how these models are used within policy making processes and whether they are fit for purpose. Drawing on our own experience and the literature, we differentiate between accounting-style inventory tools and forward-looking policy modelling tools and argue that, although part of the same overall policy process, these two approaches lack consistency in methods and implementation. A comparison with local air pollution modelling makes this contrast apparent. We therefore conclude that if these tools are to stay relevant and useful, there needs to be significant changes in: the policy and regulatory frameworks governing such models and their use in policy; model implementation, use and verification; and research culture and training. Without such changes, urban energy and carbon modelling research risks becoming science fiction reading: interesting but perhaps of limited use to current problems.
Paper Submitted to BRI: http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/rbri