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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Demand-side solutions to climate change mitigation consistent with high levels of well-being


Mitigation solutions are often evaluated in terms of costs and greenhouse gas reduction potentials, missing out on the consideration of direct effects on human well-being. Here, we systematically assess the mitigation potential of demand-side options categorized into avoid, shift and improve, and their human well-being links. We show that these options, bridging socio-behavioural, infrastructural and technological domains, can reduce counterfactual sectoral emissions by 40–80% in end-use sectors. Based on expert judgement and an extensive literature database, we evaluate 306 combinations of well-being outcomes and demand-side options, finding largely beneficial effects in improvement in well-being (79% positive, 18% neutral and 3% negative), even though we find low confidence on the social dimensions of well-being. Implementing such nuanced solutions is based axiomatically on an understanding of malleable rather than fixed preferences, and procedurally on changing infrastructures and choice architectures. Results demonstrate the high mitigation potential of demand-side mitigation options that are synergistic with well-being.

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