LIMITS Scenario Database

The LIMITS Scenario database, operated by IIASA for the LIMITS consortium, hosts the results of the LIMITS modeling comparison exercise. The LIMITS project aims at advancing the understanding of the implementation of climate policies consistent with 2 degree Celsius. The main objective of the project is to provide an assessment of the emissions reductions strategies at the level of the world and the major global economies.

Limiting global temperature increase to two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, a target agreed to by more than 100 countries, requires dramatic cuts in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions. Such a transformation necessitates a fundamental restructuring of the way energy and land are managed, driven by unparalleled policy commitment and coordination from all of the world’s major economies.

The LIMITS (Low Climate Impact Scenarios and the Implications of Required Tight Emission Control Strategies) project assesses a series of questions that are critical for developing climate policies that can achieve the stringent two-degree goal. The focus of the project is on technological challenges, economics, required policy regimes, implementation obstacles, and local and national air quality and energy security impacts.

The project assesses the implementation of emissions reductions strategies in terms of:

  1. Defining emission reduction pathways according to different assumptions about technology availability, policy regimes, implementation obstacles, and evaluating the regional distribution of mitigation at the level of major economies;
  2. Assessing the investment requirements to implement these transformation pathways and the finance mechanisms such that these resources can be best raised and allocated. Evaluating the national and international policies which are needed to ensure that the transition to a low carbon energy infrastructure is attained efficiently, given specific obstacles in the respective economies;
  3. Quantifying the changes in the energy infrastructure and land use which major economies need to implement to attain stringent climate policies;
  4. Evaluating the linkages of climate policies with other issues such as energy security, air pollution and economic development.

LIMITS is a 3 year research project (started in October 2011), with ten partners from Europe, China, India, and collaborators from the US and Japan. The project is coordinated by FEEM (Project Director: Massimo Tavoni) and managed by a coordination board which includes, besides FEEM, Elmar Kriegler (PIK), Keywan Riahi (IIASA) and Detlef van Vuuren (Utrecht University). LIMITS consists of 7 main workpackages and aims at carrying out and disseminating original research in the field of climate and energy policies. Several project and stakeholders meeting are expected to be held in Italy, Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, China and Belgium. The project can count on a very strong team, with 10 authors of the IPCC 5th assessment report WGIII participating in the project. Key integrated assessment models, including all the ones that generated the Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs), will be involved in the generation of integrated low carbon scenarios.


Researchers from IIASA’s Energy Program are using the MESSAGE-MACRO integrated assessment model to analyze the benefits of climate mitigation and the implications for strategies intended to achieve the two-degree goal. Program scientists will also examine historical trends in the diffusion of technology in order to inform future technological feasibility. IIASA’s Ecosystems Services and Management Program will use the GLOBIOM model to assess the environmental and economic implications of land use changes under the two-degree scenarios.


  • M. Tavoni, E. Kriegler, K. Riahi, D. van Vuuren: Table of Contents (.pdf)
  • E. Kriegler, M. Tavoni, T. Aboumahboub, G. Luderer, K. Calvin, G. De Maere, V. Krey, K. Riahi, H. Rosler, M. Schaeffer, D. van Vuuren: What does the 2°C target imply for a global climate agreement in 2020? The LIMITS study on Durban Platform scenarios (.pdf)
  • M. Tavoni, E. Kriegler, T. Aboumahboub, K. Calvin, G. De Maere, J. Jewell,T. Kober, P. Lucas, G. Luderer, D. McCollum, G. Marangoni, K. Riahi, D. van Vuuren: The distribution of the major economies' effort in the Durban platform scenarios (.pdf)
  • D. McCollum, Y. Nagai, K. Riahi, G. Marangoni, K. Calvin, R. Pietzcker, J. van Vliet, B. van der Zwaan: Energy investments under climate policy: a comparison of global models (.pdf)
  • J. Jewell, A. Cherp, V. Vinichenko, N. Bauer, T. Kober, D. McCollum, D. van Vuuren, B. van der Zwaan: Energy security of China, India, the E.U. and the U.S. under long-term scenarios: Results from six IAMs (.pdf)
  • M. van Sluisveld, D. Gernaat, S. Ashina, K. Calvin, A. Garg, M. Isaac, P. Lucas, I. Mouratiadou, S. Otto, S. Rao, P. Shukla, J. van Vliet, D. van Vuuren: A multi-model analysis of post-2020 mitigation efforts of five major economies (.pdf)
  • B. van der Zwaan, H. Rösler, T. Kober, T. Aboumahboub, K. Calvin, D. Gernaat, G. Marangoni and D. McCollum: A Cross-Model Comparison of Global Long-Term Technology Diffusion under a 2°C Climate Change Control Target (.pdf)
  • K. Calvin, M. Wise, D. Klein, D. McCollum, M. Tavoni, B. van der Zwaan, D. van Vuuren: A multi-model analysis of the regional and sectoral roles of bioenergy in near- and long-term CO2 emissions reduction (.pdf)
  • T. Kober, B. van der Zwaan, H. Rösler: Emission Certificate Trade and Costs under Regional Burden-Sharing Regimes for a 2°C Climate Change Control Target (.pdf)
  • T. Aboumahboub, G. Luderer, E. Kriegler, M. Leimbach, N. Bauer, M. Pehl, L. Baumstark: On the regional distribution of climate mitigation costs: the impact of delayed cooperative action (.pdf)
  • G. Marangoni, M. Tavoni: The clean energy R&D strategy for 2°C (.pdf)
  • I. Staub-Kaminski, A. Zimmer, M. Jakob, R. Marschinski: Climate Policy in Practice: A Typology of Obstacles and Implications for Integrated Assessment Modeling (.pdf)
  • A. Bowen, E. Campiglio, M. Tavoni: A macroeconomic perspective on climate change mitigation: Meeting the financing challenge (.pdf)

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Last edited: 02 June 2014


Keywan Riahi

Program Director


Senior Research Scholar

Transitions To New Technologies

T +43(0) 2236 807 491

David McCollum

Research Scholar


T +43(0) 2236 807 586

LIMITS Database

The results of the LIMITS modeling comparison exercise

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