Mitigation involves actions to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs), either by addressing the source of emissions (such as vehicle exhaust fumes, industrial pollution, and cutting down of forests) or by enhancing their removal from the atmosphere through “sinks” (a sink includes forests, vegetation or soils that can reabsorb carbon dioxide (CO2)).
The UNFCCC highlights the key sectors that release green-house gases into the atmosphere.
It is important that mitigation actions address emission reductions from these and other key sectors.
According to the IPCC FAR, a wide variety of policies and instruments are available to governments to create the incentives for mitigation action. They include:
- Integrating climate policies in wider development policies
- Regulations and standards
- Taxes and charges
- Tradable permits
- Financial incentives
- Voluntary agreements
- Information instruments
- Research, development and demonstration
Some examples of key mitigation actions include: switching from fossil fuel based sources of energy to cleaner ones and renewable energy systems, energy efficiency activities, carbon sequestration projects, improved land use management, avoided deforestation, forest conservation and sustainable forest management.
Many countries support mitigation actions that are suitable based on national circumstances.
In Guyana, for example, almost 80% of the country’s territory consists of tropical rainforest that is still largely untouched. Forests are natural regulators of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by helping to store carbon for long periods. When forests are damaged or cleared, the burned or decaying wood releases the carbon stored in trees in the form of the greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, increasing the levels of green-house gases in the atmosphere.
Guyana can play a great role in mitigating climate change through the continued conservation and sustainable management of its forests and by avoiding deforestation.
While many countries have the potential to support activities to mitigate climate change, there are a wide range of challenges, including limited financial resources, which limit their ability to do so.
There are various studies which have estimated the costs of mitigating climate change. According to Mckinsey and Company (2009), mitigating climate change globally would cost € 200 to € 350 billion annually by 2030. This would cost the world less that 1% of GDP forecasted for 2030.
According to the Stern Review, 2007, ‘Mitigation must be viewed as an investment, a cost incurred now and in the coming few decades to avoid the risks of very severe consequences in the future. If these investments are made wisely, the costs will be manageable, and there will be a wide range of opportunities for growth and development along the way’.
It is therefore important to take strong measures to mitigate climate change as soon as possible, in order to avoid the occurrence of the most catastrophic effects.