Climate Change 2001:
Working Group III: Mitigation
Other reports in this collection Summary of the Second Assessment Report

SAR divided its discussion of DMFs into four sections–an introduction, a discussion of the context of decision making, a discussion of the tools for decision analysis, and concluded by considering the implications for national decision-making in the context of the UNFCCC. The chapter began by discussing the features of climate change that distinguish it from other environmental problems. It then described decision analysis and the present state-of-the-art.

Decision analysis uses quantitative techniques to identify the “best” choice from among a range of alternatives. Model-based decision analysis tools are often used as part of interactive techniques in which stakeholders structure problems and encode judgements explicitly in subjective-preference scales. It makes the major trade-offs explicit. Although decision analysis can generate an explicit value as a basis for choice, it is based on a range of relevant monetary and non-monetary criteria. It is used to explore the decision and to generate improved options that are well balanced in the major objectives and that are robust with respect to different futures. A review of the real world limitations of quantitative decision models and the consistency of their theoretical assumptions with climate change decision-making highlighted the following points:

The lack of an individual decision maker, utility problems, and incomplete information suggest that decision analysis cannot replace the political process for international climate-change decision-making. Although elements of the technique have considerable value in framing the decision problem and identifying its critical features, decision analysis cannot identify globally optimal choices for climate change abatement. Decision analysis suffers fewer problems when used by individual countries to identify optimal national policies.

The UNFCCC establishes a collective decision-making process within which the parties negotiate future actions. Although some features of the decision-making process are set out in the Convention, many are still undecided. It becomes important, then, to examine negotiation and compromise as the primary basis for climate change decisions under the Convention. Important factors that affect negotiated decisions include the following:

The Convention is, first and foremost, a framework for collective decision making by sovereign states. Given this collective decision mechanism and the uncertainties inherent in the climate problem, several recommendations emerge:

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