Knowledge Based Climate Mitigation Systems for a Low Carbon Economy (COMPLEX)

Project leader

Project Details

Start date: 01/10/2012
End date: 30/09/2016
Funding: 6982677 EUR


The science of complex systems distinguishes linear from non-linear dynamics. Simpler systems can often be satisfactorydescribed by linear models, but complex systems require non-linear models that can capture more of the characteristics ofsuch systems, such as thresholds, feedback loops, avalanche effects, and irreversibility. Linear systems can be validated byaligning models to the past and using the model to predict the future. Non-linear systems, however, are often time-asymmetric- they can be explained with the wisdom of hindsight, but are not always predictable. For example, systems may respondsharply to minor perturbations, and the quality of this response is a measure of the system resilience. In practice, non-lineardynamics are significant both at the micro-scale of small history and at the macro-scale of deep time. The brilliant youngscientist, for example, may experience a series of epiphanies that change his/her understanding and behaviour in anunpredictable and irreversible way. The scientific community as a whole may experience an innovation-cascade that has asimilar effect on a much larger scale.Current models of climate change and carbon emission assume the immediate past is a reasonable guide to the future. Theystruggle to represent the complex causal structures and time-asymmetries of many socio-natural systems. COMPLEX willintegrate the quasi-classic models of meso-scale processes with our best understanding of fine-grained space-time patternsand the system-flips that are likely to occur in the long interval between now and 2050. We believe the sub-national region isthe key point of entry for studying climate change and its cause-effect interrelations. It is small enough to be sensitive to localfactors, large enough to interact with supra-national agencies and stable enough to be historically and culturally distinctive. Inaddition to undertaking case studies in Norway, Sweden, Netherlands, Spain and Italy, We will develop a suite of modellingtools and decision-support systems to inform national and supra-national policy and support communities across Europeworking to make the transition to a low-carbon economy.

External Partners

Last updated on 2018-19-12 at 09:59