IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007
Climate Change 2007: Working Group III: Mitigation of Climate Change

10.5.6 Non-climate policies affecting GHG emissions from waste

The EIT and many developing countries have implemented market-oriented structural reforms that affect GHG emissions. As GDP is a key parameter to predict waste generation (Daskalopoulos et al., 1998), economic growth affects the consumption of materials, the production of waste, and hence GHG emissions from the waste sector. Decoupling waste generation from economic and demographic drivers, or dematerialization, is often discussed in the context of sustainable development. Many developed countries have reported recent decoupling trends (OECD, 2002a), but the literature shows no absolute decline in material consumption in developed countries (Bringezu et al., 2004). In other words, solid waste generation does not support an environmental Kuznets curve (Dinda, 2004), because environmental problems related to waste are not fully internalized. In Asia, Japan and China are both encouraging ‘circular economy’ or ‘sound material-cycle society’ as a new development strategy, whose core concept is the circular (closed) flow of materials and the use of raw materials and energy through multiple phases (Japan Ministry of the Environment, 2003; Yuan et al., 2006). This approach is expected to achieve efficient economic growth while discharging fewer pollutants.

In 2002, the Johannesburg Summit adopted the Millennium Development Goals to reduce the number of people without access to sanitation services by 50% via the financial, technical and capacity-building expertise of the international community. If achieved, the Johannesburg Summit goals would significantly reduce GHG emissions from wastewater.

10.5.7 Co-benefits of GHG mitigation policies

Most policies and measures in the waste sector address broad environmental objectives, such as preventing pollution, mitigating odours, preserving open space and maintaining air, soil and water quality (Burnley, 2001). Thus, reductions in GHG emissions frequently occur as a co-benefit of regulations and policies not undertaken primarily for the purpose of climate-change mitigation (Austrian Federal Government, 2001). For example, the EU Landfill Directive is primarily concerned with preventing pollution of water, soil and air (Burnley, 2001).