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Interpreting the International Energy Workshop Survey Results - Uncertainty and the Need for Consistent Modeling

Manne and Schrattenholzer's (1984) summary report of the poll responses of the 1983 International Energy Workshop (IEW) published in this Journal certainly captures the flavor of the Laxenburg meetings. Opinion about the future trends in energy consumption, prices, gross domestic product, and so on, at world, regional, and national levels was widely divergent even for the near term. In fact, it was noted with some amusement (and some dismay) that it seemed impossible to agree about what had already happened in 1980. Manne and Schrattenholzer accurately advertise the spreads they report as just what they are- differences of opinion. Nevertheless, even the statistically trained reader may be tempted to interpret these spreads as reflections of the uncertainty with which we view the world's energy future. One point of this Note is to provide independent emphasis that this uncertainty interpretation is, unless we are extremely lucky, entirely inappropriate. The second purpose is to register several other concerns about the lack of economic consistency in much of the modeling with which respondents to the JEW prepared their reports. Inconsistency, it will be argued, can undermine not only the usefulness of surveys like the one conducted by the IEW, but also the ability of any appropriate procedure to investigate the subjective uncertainty that blurs our best vision into the future.

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Energy Specializations: Energy Security and Geopolitics – International Energy Organizations; Energy Modeling – Energy Data, Modeling, and Policy Analysis

JEL Codes:
O19 - International Linkages to Development; Role of International Organizations
E61 - Policy Objectives; Policy Designs and Consistency; Policy Coordination

Keywords: Energy consumption, Energy prices, GDP, Forecasting

DOI: 10.5547/ISSN0195-6574-EJ-Vol5-No4-7

Published in Volume 5, Number 4 of The Quarterly Journal of the IAEE's Energy Economics Education Foundation.