Climate Change 2001:
Working Group III: Mitigation
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It is clear from the preceding discussion that governments’ commitments to sustainable development require indicators by which decision makers can evaluate their performance in achieving specific goals and targets. Furthermore, such indicators are essential, first to capture the complex interlinkages between the basic building blocks of sustainable development (environment, economic activity, and the social fabric), and second to balance the unavoidable trade-offs between the main policy issues related to each of these blocks (development, equity, and sustainability).

It is difficult to generalize about sustainable development policies and choices. Sustainability implies and requires diversity, flexibility, and innovation. Thus, there cannot be one “rightful” path of sustainable development that leads finally to a blissful state of sustainability (Bossel, 1998). Depending upon differences among individual countries (size, level of industrialization, cultural values, etc.) as well as on the heterogeneity within countries, policy choices are meant to introduce changes in:

The set of specific policies, measures, and instruments to mitigate climate change and consequently promote sustainable development is quite large. These include generic policies oriented to induce changes in the behaviour of economic agents, or control and regulatory measures to achieve specific targets at the sectoral level. A comprehensive discussion of various aspects of different types of policies and measures is presented in Chapter 6. Here it is important to note, first, that sustainability issues cannot be addressed by single isolated measures, but they require a whole set of integrated and mutually reinforced policies. Second, weights assigned to different policies depend on individual countries according to their national circumstances and specific priorities. Third, the cause–effect reaction in the process of policy implementation is not linear. Except in trivial cases, policies tend to disrupt existing patterns, social systems create and respond to changes within themselves through feedback loops, and new patterns emerge as social, economic, and environmental aspects interact in the process of convergence towards the desired goals.

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