IMAGEIntegrated Model to Assess the Global Environment.

Reference card


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This reference card is a reproduction from the model documentation of IMAGE 3.0 on the ADVANCE website. The reference card can be used for inter-IAM comparisons.

Model attribute Value

Name and Version

IMAGE framework 3.0

Model developer and main users

PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency/ Utrecht University

Model objective

IMAGE is an ecological-environmental model framework that simulates the environmental consequences of human activities worldwide. The objective of the IMAGE model is to explore the long- term dynamics and impacts of global changes that result. More specifically, the model aims:

  1. to analyse interactions between human development and the natural environment to gain better insight into the processes of global environmental change;
  2. to identify response strategies to global environmental change based on assessment of options and
  3. to indicate key interlinkages and associated levels of uncertainty in processes of global environmental change.

Model concept

The IMAGE framework can best be described as a geographically explicit assessment, integrated assessment simulation model, focusing a detailed representation of relevant processes with respect to human use of energy, land and water in relation to relevant environmental processes.

Solution Method

Recursive dynamic solution method

Base year


Time Horizon, and time steps

2100, 1-5 year time step

Model anticipation

Simulation modelling framework, without foresight. However, a simplified version of the energy/climate part of the model (called FAIR) can be run prior to running the framework to obtain data for climate policy simulations.

Coverage and regions

Global. No. of regions = 26. Region list:

Canada, USA, Mexico, Rest of Central America, Brazil, Rest of South America, Northern Africa, Western Africa, Eastern Africa, Southern Africa, Western Europe, Central Europe, Turkey, Ukraine +, Asian-Stan, Russia +, Middle East, India +, Korea, China +, Southeastern Asia, Indonesia +, Japan, Oceania, Rest of South Asia, Rest of South Africa

Policy implementation

Key areas where policy responses can be introduced in the model are:

  • Climate policy
  • Energy policies (air pollution, access and energy security)
  • Land use policies (food)
  • Specific policies to project biodiversity
  • Measures to reduce the imbalance of the nitrogen cycle

Economic sectors
(represented separately in terms of value added)

No explicit economy representation in monetary units. Explicit economy representation in terms of energy is modelled (for the agriculture, industry, energy, transport and built environment sectors)

Exogenous Model Drivers

Exogenous GDP; GDP per capita
Other types or endogenous drivers:

Energy demand; Renewable price; Fossil fuel prices; Carbon prices; Technology progress; Energy intensity; Preferences; Learning by doing; Agricultural demand; Population; Value added


GDP per capita (exogenous); Income distribution in a region (exogenous); Urbanisation rate (exogenous)

Behaviour and behavioural change

In the energy model, substitution among technologies is described in the model using the multinomial logit formulation. The multinomial logit model implies that the market share of a certain technology or fuel type depends on costs relative to competing technologies. The option with the lowest costs gets the largest market share, but in most cases not the full market. We interpret the latter as a representation of heterogeneity in the form of specific market niches technology or fuel.

Cost measures

Area under MAC; Energy system costs


Oil; Gas, Uranium; Bioenergy crops; Food crops; Emissions permits; Non-energy goods

Bioenergy products Livestock products

Resource Use

Coal; Oil; Gas; Uranium; Biomass
Distinction between traditional and modern biomass

Electricity technologies

Solar PV
Concentrated solar power
Onshore wind
Offshore wind;
Coal (conventional; integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC); IGCC+carbon capture and storage (CCS); IGCC+combined heat and power (CHP); IGCC+CHP+CCS);
Oil (conventional; oil combined cycle (OCC); OCC+CCS; OCC+CHP; OCC+CHP+CCS);
NG (open cycle turbine; conventional combined cycle (NGCC); NGCC+CCS; NGCC+CHP; NGCC+CHP+CCS);
Biomass (Conventional, biomass combined cycle (BCC), BCC+CCS, BCC+CHP, BCC+CHP+CCS)

Heat and other conversion technologies

CHP; Hydrogen

Grid and infrastructure

Electricity; H2

Energy Technology Substitution

Discrete technology choices; Expansion and decline constraints; System integration constraints

Energy Service sectors

Transportation; Industry; Residential and commercial


Forest; Grassland; Cropland; Abandoned land; Protected land

Other Resources

Water; Metals (steel); Cement

Emissions and climate

Greenhouse Gases coverage:

CO2; CH4; N2O; HFCs; CFCs; SFs

Pollutants and non-GHG forcing agents:

NOx; SOx; BC; OC; Ozone

Modelling of Climate indicators:

CO2 concentration (ppm); Radiative Forcing (Wm2 ); Temperature change (degree C)