Munich Re Programme Symposium 1: Interpreting Models in a Climate Change Context

Date: 20 Jul 2009
Venue: Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy (CCCEP)

This was the first symposium of the Munich Re Programme at the Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy (CCCEP), and over 80 participants attended.

The symposium brought together experts in a range of different modelling techniques relevant to issues of climate and climate change risk management.

By discussing the various approaches to interpreting model results, it explored how models are best used to improve decision-making and risk assessment.


  • To explore how different types of models – climate, economic and risk models – are interpreted in the context of today’s climatic conditions.
  • To discuss the role of today’s models in decision-making in politics and the insurance business under current climatic conditions.
  • To discuss how models impact on planning and insurance-related risk assessment in the context of future climate change.
  • To summarise the status of models utilised in climate change assessments.
  • To identify approaches to future model development and interpretation that could improve their utility in the context of planning for future climate change.


Models, particularly computer-based models, are now widely used in strategic, political and economic decision-making, as well as in the insurance sector.

Yet different disciplines relate to, and utilise, models in very different ways. In some sectors they are seen as indicators of potential sensitivities. In others, they are sometimes interpreted as providing detailed deterministic or probabilistic predictions. The relationship between models and the real world, and how this is perceived by researchers, policy makers and industry, is critical in achieving robust decisions and minimising future risks.

Decisions in the context of climate change provide a particularly substantial challenge because of the time frames involved. The multi-decadal character of the problem limits the possibility of learning from experience in terms of adapting and improving both the models and the decision-making frameworks which use them.

There is nevertheless a substantial opportunity to learn from the way different types of models are interpreted and applied.

Outline of the synposium and further reading:

The symposium included the following sessions, presentations and discussion panels:

Session 1

Climate Models: Uncertainty Analyses and Information Content for Climate Risk Decision-Making

Session 2

Frameworks for the Interpretation of Models

Panel discussion 1

  • Dr Roman Frigg
  • Dr Matt Huddlestone
  • Professor Jacqueline McGlade
  • Professor Arthur Petersen
  • Professor Leonard Smith

Dr Roman Frigg

Session 3

Applications of Economic Models

Session 4

The Use of Models in the Insurance Industry (Risk Models)

Session 5

The Role of Models in Climate Change Policy and Decision-Making

Panel discussion 2

  • Dr Simon Dietz
  • Dr Eberhard Faust
  • Professor Geoffrey Heal
  • Dr Herman Held
  • Roger Street

Dr Simon Dietz

Summary of the day