Working Group III: Mitigation

Other reports in this collection Ancillary Benefits for Households

A major ancillary benefit of GHG mitigation is reductions in the emissions of local air pollutants. Glomsro et al. (1990) have indicated that improved health conditions as a consequence of improved air quality, etc., could offset roughly two-thirds of the calculated GDP loss arising out of policies to reduce emissions. Alfsen et al. (1995) indicate a 6 to 10% reduction in SO2 and NOx emissions by the year 2000 as a result of an energy tax of US$3/barrel in 1993 and increasing by US$1 in each subsequent year to 2000.

Transport sector mitigation could imply substantial price increases with associated negative political, economic, and social implications, such as hardship for low-income rural motorists without access to public transport (Koopman and Denis, 1995; Dargay and Gately, 1997). But the option of using public transport could benefit the lower income sections of society, especially in developing countries, along with associated reduction in emission of CO, NOx and SO2 (Bose and Srinivasachary, 1997). Lower fuel use by road transportation could have substantial health benefits in urban areas (Pearce, 1996; Zaim, 1997).

Some of the indirect benefits of GHG mitigation of fuel switching and efficient devices in the household sectors, typically in developing countries, include:

  • improved indoor air quality;
  • higher quality of life (simplifying household chores, better hygiene, and easier cleaning);
  • reduced fuel demand with economic and time-saving benefits to the household (one study in Tanzania reported that women using wood as fuel spend 12 hours a week to collect it (Gopalan and Saksena, 1999));
  • increased sustainability of local natural resources; and
  • reductions in the adverse effects of biomass use on human health (WHO, 1992).

These points are particularly relevant in the case of biomass-burning stoves (Sathaye and Tyler, 1991; Smith 1996). Gopalan and Saksena (1999) report that the level of exposure to key pollutants in rural households can be 10 to 100 times higher than the health-related guidelines of the WHO.

The results of a study on potential fuelwood use in 2020 for Austria, Finland, France, Portugal, and Sweden reveal that upstream emissions from fuel extraction are generally higher for fossil fuels than biofuels (Schwaiger and Schlamadinger, 1998). However, some research indicates that local negative environmental implications may be greater for use of wood than fossil fuel (Radetzki, 1997). An associated impact of increased diversion of land for growing wood would be on agriculture production and hence the commodity prices (Alig et al., 1997). The economic benefits of afforestation also include benefits from increase in supply of non-timber forest products (Mors, 1991; ADB-GEF-UNDP, 1998a). These options in developing countries would greatly increase the wood supply and address the forest degradation issue but viability is an important issue as incomes are too low in rural areas for sizeable numbers of the population to buy wood.

Mitigation strategies in rural domestic energy use range from use of more efficient appliances, installation of PV solar, fuel-switching and use of bio-gas (ADB-GEF-UNDP, 1998a). Such strategies for developing countries are constrained by high capital costs (Biswas and Lucas, 1997). The ancillary benefits of lower use of traditional biomass are decreased deforestation, and lower loss of crop-nutrient from the system through use of agricultural residue as fuel (Bala, 1997). The ancillary environmental benefits that are associated with such strategies do not form a major factor in energy decisions of the household (Aacher and Kammen, 1996); it is the cost that is the important factor. And some mitigation measures at home, such as reduction of air leaks, tend to worsen indoor air quality (Turiel, 1985). The Asia Least-cost Greenhouse Gas Abatement Strategy Studies

ALGAS was a regional technical assistance project of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) which enabled 12 Asian countries:

  • to prepare an inventory of anthropogenic emissions and sinks of GHGs;
  • to evaluate the costs and effectiveness of measures available to reduce GHG emissions or enhance sinks; and
  • to develop national action plan policy responses that will be required to implement the measures that are identified.

The ALGAS country reports highlight the forestry sector options: forest protection and reforestation will have both socio-economic benefits and environmental benefits. These forestry options will increase rural incomes, increase equity of income, and increase the availability of biomass (ADB-GEF-UNDP, 1998b, c, d and f). These studies also emphasize that the forestry options would reduce the pressure on forested land and have indirect benefits of reducing soil erosion in hilly terrain. However, some of the studies (ADB-GEF-UNDP 1998c and e) indicate that these changes are short term and do not have a significant effect.

The ALGAS-Bangladesh (ADB-GEF-UNDP, 1998d) study also reports that the options in the agricultural sector of reducing CH4 emission from paddy fields and enteric fermentation in animals have direct benefits in terms of increased incomes, and also improve foodgrain production and availability.

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