Climate change mitigation policy: an overview of opportunities and challenges

Produced as part of the Governments, markets and climate change mitigation CCCEP research programme theme

Abstract of Working Paper 11

We provide a broad overview of the opportunities and challenges facing global climate change mitigation policy ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December 2009.

Our paper begins with a brief review of the technological options for mitigating climate change by reducing, and substituting for, the use of fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas).

It then summarises the economic case for climate change mitigation, set out in the 2007 Stern Review.

We then look at how the implementation of climate policy measures to meet emissions reduction targets has so far had limited success, with worldwide emissions of greenhouse gases growing by 38 per cent between 1992 and 2007.

A critique is provided of the theoretical framing of current climate policies, arguing that a more integrated, long-term approach may be needed, in order to inform the decisions of economic actors in the face of high levels of risk and uncertainty.

New economic ideas are reviewed, which aim to provide a more radical reframing of the steps needed for a transition to a low-carbon economy.

These include a ‘green fiscal stimulus’ or ‘green new deal’, a focus on reducing emissions upstream at the production end rather than downstream at the consumption end, and challenging the accepted economic growth paradigm.

Finally, it is argued that high levels of political will, technological innovation, institutional change, business leadership and citizen engagement will be needed to put the world on a pathway to a sustainable and prosperous low-carbon future.