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

2 Framing issues

Climate change mitigation and sustainable development

There is a two-way relationship between climate change and development. On the one hand vulnerability to climate change is framed and strongly influenced by development patterns and income levels. Decisions about technology, investment, trade, poverty, community rights, social policies or governance, which may seem unrelated to climate policy, may have profound impacts on emissions, the extent of mitigation required, and the cost and benefits that result [2.2.3].

On the other hand, climate change itself, and adaptation and mitigation policies could have significant positive impacts on development in the sense that development can be made more sustainable. This leads to the notion that climate change policies can be considered 1) in their own right (‘climate first’); or 2) as an integral element of sustainable-development policies (‘development first’). Framing the debate as a sustainable development problem rather than a solely environmental one may better address the needs of countries, while acknowledging that the driving forces for emissions are linked to the underlying development path [2.2.3].

Development paths evolve as a result of economic and social transactions, which are influenced by government policies, private sector initiatives and by the preferences and choices of consumers. These include a broad number of policies related to nature conservation, legal frameworks, property rights, rule of law, taxes and regulation, production, security and safety of food, consumption patterns, human and institutional capacity building efforts, R&D, financial schemes, technology transfer, energy efficiency and energy options. These policies do not usually emerge and become implemented as part of a general development-policy package, but are normally targeted towards more specific policy goals like air-pollution standards, food security and health issues, GHG-emission reduction, income generation by specific groups,or development of industries for green technologies. However, significant impacts can arise from such policies on sustainability and greenhouse mitigation and the outcomes of adaptation. The strong relationship between mitigation of climate change and development applies in both developed and developing countries. Chapter 12 and to some extent Chapters 411 address these issues in more detail [2.2.5; 2.2.7].

Emerging literature has identified methodological approaches to identify, characterize and analyze the interactions between sustainable development and climate change responses. Several authors have suggested that sustainable development can be addressed as a framework for jointly assessing social, human, environmental and economic dimensions. One way to address these dimensions is to use a number of economic, environmental, human and social indicators to assess the impacts of policies on sustainable development, including both quantitative and qualitative measurement standards (high agreement, limited evidence) [2.2.4].