Climate Change 2001:
Working Group III: Mitigation
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The linkages between the social, economic, environmental, and political dimensions of sustainable development call for policies that can serve multiple objectives, and requires that a balance be struck when objectives conflict. These linkages are often mutually reinforcing in the long run, but may sometimes be contradictory in the short term (OECD, 1999c). In this regard, a critical requirement of sustainable development is a capacity to design policy measures that, without hindering development and remaining consistent with national strategies, could exploit potential synergies between national economic growth objectives and environmentally focused policies. Climate change mitigation strategies offer a clear example of how co-ordinated and harmonized policies can take advantage of the synergies between the implementation of mitigation options and broader objectives.

Over the past years, of the policy options to mitigate climate change, technological options to limit or reduce GHG emissions have received by far the most attention. Chapters 3 and 4 provide a comprehensive review of technologies and practices to mitigate climate change. Energy efficiency improvements (including energy conservation), switches to low carbon-content fuels, use of renewable energy sources, and the introduction of more advanced non-conventional energy technologies are expected to have significant impacts on curbing actual GHG emission tendencies. Similarly, the adoption of new technologies and practices in agriculture and forestry activities, as well as the adoption of clean production processes, could make substantial contributions to the GHG mitigation effort. Depending on the specific context in which they are applied, these options may entail ancillary benefits, and in some cases are worth undertaking whether or not there are climate-related reasons for doing so.

The potential linkages between climate change mitigation issues and economic and social aspects have also brought an important shift in the focus of mitigation analysis literature. From being confined to project-by-project or sector-based approaches, analyses and studies are increasingly concerned with broader policy issues as mechanisms to reduce the increase of GHG emissions. Fresh methodological developments (UNEP, 1998) broaden climate change mitigation policies by incorporating distributional impacts, negative side effects, and the appropriate choice of instruments and institutional constraints, among others. This provides a somewhat different slant on the focus of climate change mitigation policies. More emphasis is now given to exploit mutually reinforcing links among individual actions, to take advantage of the potential interactions of mitigation options with other objectives, and to supplement individual mechanisms with economic instruments of wider scope.

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