Climate Change No Longer a Distant or Abstract Threat (It’s Here)

The 2030 Agenda document — containing the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and 169 targets — recognizes that climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time. Its adverse impacts undermine the ability of all countries to achieve sustainable development.

As confirmed by the world’s leading scientists, it is no longer a distant or abstract threat. The world’s poorest and most vulnerable people are already being impacted by water scarcity, rising sea levels, ocean acidification, loss of agricultural lands and ecosystems, forest fires, floods and intensified extreme events such as hurricanes and typhoons. The annual losses from natural disasters now average U.S. $250 billion to U.S. $300billion. If business as usual continues, half of the world’s population could be living in areas of high water stress by 2030 as global temperatures shoot beyond the agreed goal of below 2-degrees Celsius (above pre-industrial levels). Governments have already agreed that drastic cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions are needed to tackle the 40 percent increase in global emissions since 1990 if we are to avoid the devastation that would result from a 4-degree Celsius world.

Despite the multiple risks and linkages with development, inclusion of a stand-alone goal on climate change proved controversial. Some had argued that climate change should be mainstreamed into the other goals. Others that climate change need not be included in the SDGs at all because the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) already provides a global framework for action and negotiations on a new universal agreement are due for adoption in December 2015 at the Paris Climate Change summit (known as COP 21). A further complication on the scope of a climate SDG was the parallel negotiations on disaster preparedness and response under the now agreed Sendai Framework for Action on —> Read More