Reaching the Sustainable Development Goals requires a fundamental socio-economic transformation accompanied by substantial investment in low-carbon infrastructure. Such a sustainability transition represents a non-marginal change, driven by behavioral factors and systemic interactions. However, typical economic models used to assess a sustainability transition focus on marginal changes around a local optimum, which—by construction—lead to negative effects. Thus, these models do not allow evaluating a sustainability transition that might have substantial positive effects. This paper examines which mechanisms need to be included in a standard computable general equilibrium model to overcome these limitations and to give a more comprehensive view of the effects of climate change mitigation. Simulation results show that, given an ambitious greenhouse gas emission constraint and a price of carbon, positive economic effects are possible if (1) technical progress results (partly) endogenously from the model and (2) a policy intervention triggering an increase of investment is introduced. Additionally, if (3) the investment behavior of firms is influenced by their sales expectations, the effects are amplified. The results provide suggestions for policy-makers, because the outcome indicates that investment-oriented climate policies can lead to more desirable outcomes in economic, social and environmental terms.
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