The UN sustainable development goals contain environmental, economic, and social objectives. They may only be reached, or at least it would be easier to reach them, if instead of a trade-off between these objectives that implies a need for balancing them, there are synergies to be reaped. This paper discusses how the structures of economic models typically used in policy analysis influence whether win–win strategies for the environment and the economy can be conceptualised and analysed. With a focus on climate policy modelling, the paper points out how, by construction, commonly used model structures find mitigation costs rather than benefits. This paper describes mechanisms that, when added to these model structures, can bring win–win options into a model’s solution horizon, and which provide a spectrum of alternative modelling approaches that allow for the identification of such options.
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