UN Sustainable Development Goals (Global Goals) and greenhouse gas emissions

UN Sustainable Development Goals (Global Goals) and greenhouse gas emissions

UNs 17 ‘Sustainable Development Goals‘, or Global Goals, consist of simple headings with underlying ‘Clarifications and indicators‘ (pdf, 25 pages) that interact with each other in complex ways. The following examines the links between The Global Goals and greenhouse gas emissions.

Global Goal 13: “Take urgent action to combat climate change…”. The action is indicated by the number of countries that have communicated (..) an integrated policy/strategy/plan which increases their ability to (..) foster (..) low greenhouse gas emissions development in a manner that does not threaten food production.

In other words, the key action-instrument to ensure that global temperatures rise no more than 2°C is national plans to promote low emissions without reducing food production. Consequently, all goals related to food production will have to be included the survey.

Also from Global Goal 13: The developed countries must implement the commitment undertaken (..) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to a goal of mobilizing jointly $100 billion annually by 2020 from all sources (countries, cities, businesses, and private citizens) and fully operationalize the Green Climate Fund (..) as soon as possible. The ‘Green Climate Fund‘ pledges to offer balanced support to adaptation and mitigation needs of developing countries.

In other words, the Green Climate Fund must offer $50 billion annually by 2020 to developing countries to mitigation (to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions).

Global Goal 2: “… promote sustainable agriculture”. By 2030, double the agricultural productivity (..) of small-scale food producers (production per labour unit), and ensure sustainable food production systems (..) that help maintain ecosystems and improve land and soil quality.

Global Goal 6: “… sustainable management of water and sanitation for all”. By 2030, improve water quality by reducing pollution, and halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling (..) globally.

Global Goal 7: “…  sustainable and modern energy for all”. By 2030, increase substantially the share of renewable energy (consumption) in the global energy mix, and double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency (in terms of primary energy and GDP), and upgrade technology for supplying modern and sustainable energy services for all in developing countries.

Global Goal 8: “… sustainable economic growth …”. Improve progressively, through 2030, efforts to decouple economic growth from environmental degradation, indicated by material footprint, material footprint per capita, and material footprint per GDP.

Global Goal 9: “… sustainable industrialization …”. Promote (..) sustainable industrialization.

Global Goal 11: “Make cities and human settlements (..) sustainable”. By 2030, reduce the adverse per capita environmental impact of cities (including air quality and waste management).

Global Goal 12: “Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns”. Implement the 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns, all countries taking action. By 2020, achieve the environmentally sound management of chemicals and all wastes throughout their life cycle. By 2030, substantially reduce waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse. And countries must rationalize inefficient fossil-fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption by removing market distortions, in accordance with national circumstances, including by restructuring taxation and phasing out those harmful subsidies, where they exist, to reflect their environmental impacts (..). Indicator by amount of fossil-fuel subsidies per unit of GDP (production and consumption) and as a proportion of total national expenditure on fossil fuels.

Global Goal 14: ”Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources …”. By 2025, prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activitiesBy 2020, effectively regulate harvesting and end overfishing, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and destructive fishing practices. By 2020, conserve at least 10% of coastal and marine areas, consistent with national and international law and based on the best available scientific information. By 2020, prohibit certain forms of fisheries subsidies which contribute to overcapacity and overfishing.

Global Goal 15: “Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss”. By 2020, promote the implementation of sustainable management of all types of forests, halt deforestation, restore degraded forests and substantially increase afforestation and reforestation globally.

Summary

  • Urgent action must be taken to combat climate change, and national plans on how to lower greenhouse gas emissions, without threatening food production1, must be communicated.
  • By 2020, developed countries must pay $50 billion annually to developing countries in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • By 2030, the share of renewable energy in the global consumption energy mix must be substantially higher, and the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency must be doubled.
  • Through 2030, efforts to decouple economic growth from environmental degradation must have improve progressively.
  • Countries must rationalize inefficient fossil-fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption, to reflect the environmental impacts.
  • Stop deforestation, restore degraded forests and substantially increase reforestation globally, by 2020.

¹Food production must adapt to these these additional guidelines:

  • Agricultural productivity of small-scale food producers must double, by 2030.
  • Sustainable food production systems that help maintain ecosystems and improve land and soil quality, must be ensured by 2030.
  • The proportion of untreated wastewater must be halved and recycling must have substantially increased globally, by 2030.
  • Sustainable industrialization must be promoted.
  • Hostile air quality and waste management in cities must be reduced, by 2030.
  • Substantially reduce waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse, by 2030.
  • Effectively regulate harvesting and end overfishing, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and destructive fishing practices, by 2020.
  • Promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.
  • Promote the implementation of sustainable management of all types of forests, halt deforestation, restore degraded forests and substantially increase afforestation and reforestation globally, by 2020.

The long-term greenhouse gas emissions effects of the sympathetic Global Goals obviously interact with the ‘Paris Agreement‘. Read the articles ‘Planet has just 5% chance of reaching Paris climate goal, study says‘ (The Guardian, 2017), and ‘The COP21 Paris Agreement: Diplomatic triumph, self-applause … and the carbon budget‘ (ClimatePositions, 2015).

Let’s see what the future brings.

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PowerPoint image by Claus Andersen, 2017. 

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