One approach to reducing the environmental costs of economic activity is to design and implement policies that aim at decoupling economic activity from its environmental impacts. Such a decoupling requires an economy-wide approach to policy-making, through broad mixes of policy instruments that create the right framework conditions for decoupling, and which provide coherent and consistent signals to resource-using sectors of the economy. This article summarizes the ex ante
qualitative environmental assessment of three policy mixes (over-arching, metals, and land use) developed within the DYNAMIX project, highlighting their potential impacts on raw material extraction, greenhouse gas emissions, land use, freshwater use, and biodiversity (parallel assessments addressed economic and social impacts, and governance issues). Whilst the environmental assessments largely identified positive impacts, some policies had potential for minor negative impacts. The key challenges for undertaking such an assessment are identified (including uncertainty, baseline accuracy, the differing nature and scope of policies, policy flexibility, and the challenges of implementing volume control policies). Finally, some conclusions and lessons for policy-makers are presented, to contribute to the development of future policies and improve the reliability of future environmental assessments of policy mixes.
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