Working Group III: Mitigation

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10.1 Introduction 10.1.1 Chapter Overview

The preceding chapters in this volume assess the scientific literature on specific aspects of climate change economics and policy. This chapter is intended to synthesize the most important policy-relevant scientific results by taking several cuts across the material. This chapter begins with a presentation of the special features of climate change in the context of how they affect decision-making in different frameworks. This is followed by a list of analytical frameworks adopted by scientists to provide advice to decision makers and by an overview of the most important new developments since the Second Assessment Report (SAR). This section closes with notes on decision-making processes and implications of uncertainty for the robustness of choices.

Section 10.2 presents an assessment of key insights from the economics and political science literature into international regimes and policy options. The chief issue addressed in the section is how international institutions for addressing climate change, such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), are simultaneously shaped by and influence national policy choice.

Section 10.3 considers the problem of local and national climate policy formulation in the broader context of sustainable development objectives. The interactions of development and environmental policy objectives, particularly as they affect non-Annex I nations, are discussed.

Section 10.4 looks at a series of policy-relevant scientific questions related to global and international climate policy in more detail. It focuses on what has been learned from work that examined decision making at the global scale. While much of this literature is also cognizant of the regional decisions that accumulate to determine global aggregates, it is united by a global focus, common to all of the work discussed in the section. It explores what is known about costs and benefits of actions, the timing and composition of policy responses, and the influence of equity and fairness considerations on policy. Finally, some concluding remarks and an outline of future tasks are presented in the closing section.

The long tradition of using the terms decision analysis (and frameworks) and decision making (and frameworks) largely interchangeably, and both meaning scientific inquiries to serve decision makers, has resulted in some confusion in the case of climate change. With a view to the political sensitivity of the issue, it is important to clarify the terminology here at the beginning of this chapter. Toth (2000) proposes a simple scheme to make a clear distinction to recognize the fine borderline between a policy-relevant scientific assessment and policy making proper. Climate change decision-making and decision analysis intended to support it can be structured in three major domains: decision making per se (the act of formulating decisions), decision analysis (aimed at providing information for decision makers), and process analysis (investigating procedures of decision making). The last two are sometimes difficult to separate and they overlap in certain areas, but the distinction is still useful.

DMFs relevant to the climate problem have several levels. They stretch from global and supranational fora through national and regional institutions down to the micro-level of companies, families, and individuals. At each level, it is useful to distinguish two parts of these DMFs: institutions that provide the boundary conditions (jurisdictions, procedural rules, the body of earlier agreements, etc.) and processes that fall within these frameworks (negotiations, lobbying, persuasion). At the global level, for example, UNFCCC provides the institutional part and negotiations represent the process part of the DMF.

To keep the term comprehensive and flexible, decision-analysis frameworks (DAFs) are defined as analytical techniques aimed at synthesizing available information from many (broader or narrower) segments of the climate problem to help policymakers assess the consequences of various decision options within their own jurisdictions. DAFs organize climate-relevant information in a suitable framework, apply a decision criterion (based on some paradigms or theories), and identify options that are better than others under the assumptions that characterize the analytical framework and the application at hand. A broad range of DAFs has been used to provide substantial information for the various DMFs involved in climate decisions at various levels. The most important ones are depicted later in this section.

The third domain is process-analysis frameworks (PAFs), which involve assessments of the decision-making process and provide guidance for decision making in two main areas. The first is concerned with institutional framework design, that is how to build policy regimes that address the problem effectively (Victor et al., 1998; Young, 1999). The second looks at procedures of decision making at various levels. The bulk of the literature on climate change addresses global regime-building in framework analysis and international negotiations in procedure analysis (Kremenyuk, 1991). Pertinent lessons from this literature are assessed in Section 10.2.

The objective in this chapter is to provide a critical appraisal of policy-oriented analyses and to summarize the emerging insights in a form that allows policymakers to make informed judgements within the various DMFs. It is clearly not intended to inflict any particular position upon the policymakers.

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