Energy production and consumption often entail adverse impacts on the global climate, on the local environment and on health, imposing a burden of direct or indirect external costs on society. Strategies to lower energy consumption therefore automatically lead to a reduction of the impacts on the environment and the external costs they create. The Advisory Body for Climate Change of the Swiss Federal Government (OcCC) examined potential measures to reduce greenhouse gases. The primary focus of the study was not on the effect on climate but on secondary benefits of these measures.
The results of the investigation show that many measures do not lead to a mitigation of climate change exclusively but also to significant secondary benefits for economy, health and environment. Measures resulting in such secondary benefits are, for instance, a parallel reduction of air pollutants or an active promotion of the innovation process reinforcing the economic position of Switzerland.
Economic measures in particular (e.g. incentive taxes such as the law on CO2 and taxes on non-renewable energy sources) allow an internalization of external costs of energy consumption with positive effects on the entire national economy. These measures lead to positive effects which are profitable regardless of their benefit for the global climate, which is difficult to quantify.
OcCC concludes that secondary benefits of greenhouse gas reduction measures have to be included in cost/benefit considerations. OcCC will commit itself to the task to make sure that secondary benefits of measures will be taken into account duly and that research gaps on the effects of measures will be closed.
Secondary benefits of greenhouse gas reduction are positive side-effects of measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in addition to the intended primary climate effect. Knowledge of secondary benefits is of key relevance to Swiss environmental policy since their effect is immediate, while any mitigation of the anthropogenic influence on our climate can only be discerned in the longer term. The Advisory Body on Climate Change (OcCC) has identified and evaluated the most significant secondary benefits.
Source: Secondary Benefits of Greenhouse Gas Reduction / Sekundärnutzen von Treibhausgas-Reduktionen. Synthesis Report, OcCC (August 2000)