10.3 Local and/or National Sustainable Development Choices and Addressing
Chapter 1 presented three perspectives on climate
change mitigation: cost-effectiveness, equity, and sustainability. The first
perspective dominates much of the assessments reviewed in the previous chapters
and sections. It is also dominant in the scientific literature on climate change
mitigation. As discussed in Sections 1.3 and 1.4,
other key perspectives are relevant for mitigation assessment as well: equity
and sustainability. This is especially relevant for the assessment of mitigative
capacity at local and national levels, and certainly for incorporating climate
change mitigation policies into national development agendas.
Decision making related to climate change is a crucial aspect of making decisions
about sustainable development, simply because climate change is one of the most
important symptoms of unsustainability. Climate change could undermine
economic activities, social welfare, and equity in an unprecedented manner,
in particular both intra- and intergenerational equity is likely to be worsened.
Now it is widely recognized that global environmental problems and the ability
to meet human needs are linked through a set of physical, chemical, and biological
processes that have an impact on global hydrological cycles, affect the boundaries
and functioning of ecological systems, and accelerate land degradation and desertification.
Despite the close links, climate change and sustainable development have been
pursued as largely separate discourses. The sustainable development research
community has not generally considered how the impacts of changing climate may
affect efforts to develop more sustainable societies. Conversely, methodological
and substantive arguments associated with sustainable development are still
absent in climate change discourse. It is difficult to generalize about sustainable
development policies and choices. Sustainable development implies and requires
diversity, flexibility, and innovation. Policy choices are meant to introduce
changes in technological patterns of natural resource use, production and consumption,
structural changes in the production systems, spatial distribution of population
and economic activities, and behavioural patterns. Moreover, the process of
integrating and internalising climate change and sustainable development policies
into national development agendas requires new problem-solving strategies and
decision-making approaches in which uncertainties need to be managed to produce
In this section the dual structure of linkages between sustainable development
and climate change is discussed. The existence of positive synergistic effects
is reviewed, as is how specific strategies, especially those related to lifestyle
options and technology-transfer policies, could reinforce potential synergies.
Finally, the emergence of new and innovative decision frameworks, in which extended
peer community participation is essential to incorporate into the decision process
both the plurality of different legitimate perspectives and the management of
irreducible uncertainties in knowledge and ethics, is examined.