Center for Robust Decision Making on Climate and Energy Policy


Mission and Values:

The Center for Robust Decision Making on Climate and Energy Policy was established in September 2010 with the following mission:

  • To improve society’s ability to respond to climate change and energy supply challenges, by providing tools that allow policy makers to deal effectively with deep and pervasive uncertainty. This work will leverage the transformative characteristics of open source software, coupled with research, education, and outreach programs that integrate across disciplines and institutions.

In pursuing this mission, we are guided by this overarching vision:

  • To be the leading research center on computational methods for decision making under uncertainty.


The Center conducts research in four main areas:

  1. Improving the fidelity of models used to forecast the impact of policies on future economic and climatic conditions. Many of the most decision-relevant aspects of climate and energy policy - for example, climate impacts and technological advances - are poorly or not at all represented in current policy analysis tools. The Center will build representations of the most important processes and increase model detail and resolution.
  2. Quantifying sensitivities and uncertainties in the parameters, processes, and impacts in models. RDCEP will develop methods to characterize the dependence of model output on input, parameter, and model uncertainty; incorporate these uncertainties in models; and study how to communicate probabilistic model output to decision makers.
  3. Identifying robust decisions in the face of uncertainty. The best policy is not necessarily that which produces the maximum return if all assumptions made are borne out, but the one that balances return and risk in the face of many uncertainties. The Center will develop models to identify robust strategies that perform well over a wide range of scenarios.
  4. Developing improved computational methods and numerical methods required to achieve these goals. New parallel stochastic dynamic programming, robust optimal control, and numerical optimization methods able to make full use of modern supercomputers will allow tools developed at the Center to incorporate sectoral and process detail and explore uncertainty, in ways not previously possible.

All models, data, and tools developed by RDCEP will be open source and available to the community, both as standalone components and as an integrated modeling framework with a dynamic stochastic general equilibrium core. The framework will be readily extensible for use with a wide variety of applications. By providing broad access to the most modern economic and numerical methods, the Center will encourage their adoption by researchers and decision makers. This aspect of RDCEP's work has the potential to be transformative in its impact on climate and energy policy decision-making.


NSF's Decision Making Under Uncertainty Program: 

RDCEP is being funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) through the Decision Making Under Uncertainty (DMUU) program.

The primary goal of DMUU is to "advance fundamental understanding of decision making under uncertainty for climate change and related long-term environmental risks." In addition, the Center is expected "to provide new knowledge about how public officials, firms in the private sector, other groups, and/or individuals can incorporate existing knowledge about climate change and related long-term environmental risks into their decisions."

In total, the NSF awarded funding to four university-based centers under the most recent DMUU program.

Additional information about the DMUU program can be found on NSF's web site.

 Other Centers funded under centers NSF Decision Making Under Uncertainty grant: