Implementing an effective climate policy is one of the main challenges for the future. Curbing greenhouse gas emissions can prevent future irreversible impacts of climate change. Climate policy is therefore crucial for present and future generations. Nonetheless, one may wonder whether future economic and social development could be harmed by climate policy. This paper addresses this question by examining recent developments in international climate policy and considering different levels of cooperation that may arise in light of the outcomes of the Conference of the Parties held in Doha. The paper analyses how various climate policy scenarios would enhance sustainability and whether there is a trade-off between climate policy and economic development and social cohesion. This is done by using a new comprehensive indicator, the FEEM Sustainability Index (FEEM SI), which aggregates several economic, social, and environmental indicators. The FEEM SI is built into a recursive-dynamic computable general equilibrium model of the world economy, thus offering the possibility of projecting all indicators into the future and of delivering a perspective assessment of sustainability under different future climate policy scenarios. We find that the environmental component of sustainability improves at the regional and world level thanks to the implementation of climate policies. Overall sustainability increases in all scenarios since the economic and social components are affected negatively yet marginally. This analysis does not include explicitly climate change damages and this may lead to underestimating the benefits of policy actions. If the USA, Canada, Japan and Russia did not contribute to mitigating emissions, sustainability in these countries would decrease and the overall effectiveness of climate policy in enhancing global sustainability would be offset.
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