Life-cycle assessments commonly used to analyze the environmental costs and benefits of climate-mitigation options are usually static in nature and address individual power plants. Our paper presents, to our knowledge, the first life-cycle assessment of the large-scale implementation of climate-mitigation technologies, addressing the feedback of the electricity system onto itself and using scenario-consistent assumptions of technical improvements in key energy and material production technologies.

Almost one-quarter of carbon dioxide released to the atmosphere is emitted in the production of internationally traded goods and services. Trade therefore represents an unrivalled, and unused, tool for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.