This Existential Threat Is Not a Hollywood Fantasy

Imagine for a moment that the United States faced an existential threat. An attack was anticipated that would be of such a scale that the U.S. would have to lower its flag from in front of the UN and would simply cease to exist. Variations of this scenario happen in summertime action movies all the time.

Sadly, this scale is not only seen in movies. Climate change is already an existential threat for many nations. The scale of threat we are used to only seeing in action movies in the U.S. is a reality for Small Island Developing Nations and others dependent on rain-fed agriculture, and exposed to increasingly severe disasters tied to sea-level rise and warming seas.

For these nations, it has been clear for a long time that the solutions for sustainable development and climate change are deeply intertwined. Sustainable Development Goal 13 is critically important for these nations and for all nations. If we are to tackle poverty, climate action needs to become a core part of the sustainable-development agenda, and not put in a silo.

That vision of integration is exactly what SDG 13 brings us. The specific language of SDG 13 includes a call to keep global-average surface temperatures from increasing more than 1.5/2 degrees C, and a call for more ambition in the near-term, before 2020. The increased action now is a critical call, since greenhouse-gas emissions add up in the air the way that compound interest can add up in a bank. Action now is critical.

Climate change influences many of the core parameters for development — fresh water availability, food availability, and public health. Climate action also enables access to energy for millions who can take advantage of plummeting costs of solar to electrify remote locations that are far —> Read More