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

2.8 Regional dimensions

Climate change studies have used various different regional definitions depending on the character of the problem considered and differences in methodological approaches. Regional studies can be organized according to geographical criteria, political organizational structures, trade relations, climatic conditions, stage of industrialization or other socio-economic criteria relevant to adaptive and mitigative capacity (Duque and Ramos, 2004; Ott et al., 2004; Pan, 2004a).

Some classifications are based on so-called ‘normative criteria’ such as membership of countries in UN fora and agreements. Differentiation into Annex-1 and non-Annex-1 countries is specified in the UNFCCC, although the classification of certain countries has been a matter of some dispute. Annex-1 countries are further sub-divided into those that are undergoing a transition to market economies. Figure 13.2 in Chapter 13 shows the current country groupings under the Climate Convention, OECD and the European Union. Some Economies in Transition (Rabinovitch and Leitman, 1993) and developing countries are members of the OECD, and some developing countries have income levels that are higher than developed nations (Baumert et al., 2004; Ott et al., 2004). Given the complexities of the criteria used in country groupings, in this report the terms ‘developed countries’, ‘economies in transition’ (together forming the industrialized countries) and ‘developing countries’ are commonly used; categories that are primarily of a socio-economic nature.

In climate mitigation studies, there are often two types of regional breakdowns used – physio-geographic or socio-economic. Data on insolation (relevant to solar power), rainfall (relevant to hydrower), temperature, precipitation and soil type (relevant to the potential for carbon sequestration) are examples of physio-geographic classifications useful in climate change mitigation studies.

The multitude of possible regional representations hinders the comparability and transfer of information between the various types of studies implemented for specific regions and scales. Data availability also determines what kinds of aggregation are possible. Proxies are used when data is not available. This report has generally chosen a pragmatic way of analyzing regional information and presenting findings. Readers should bear in mind that any regional classification masks sub-regional differences.