Thinking Climate Protection and Sustainable Development More Closely Together

Commentary in Nature Climate Change suggests that global sustainability goals and climate protection need to be integrated more strongly

  • News 15.09.2023

The so-called Global Stocktake (GST) is a central element of the Paris Climate Agreement. Every five years, parties to the Agreement draw up a balance sheet on their joint progress. At the 28th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28) in Dubai, the first GST will conclude. The political assessment of this first Stocktake is likely to become the most important outcome of this COP, as it will set the framework for the next round of nationally determined contributions (NDCs) that parties will have to submit in 2025.

In its current issue, the leading journal Nature Climate Change publishes a series of commentaries focusing on different aspects of the GST. Dr. Lukas Hermwille, Senior Researcher in the International Climate Policy Research Unit, and Wolfgang Obergassel, Co-Head of the International Climate Policy Research Unit at the Wuppertal Institute, together with Dr. Adis Dzebo from the Stockholm Environment Institute and Dr. Gabriela Iacobuta, Associate Researcher at the German Institute of Development and Sustainability (IDOS), argue that a stronger integration of climate action and UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are our best and only chance to achieve the ambitious goals of the Paris Agreement after all.
Because one thing is clear even before the conclusion of the Global Stocktake: we are far from being on the right track. Parties' NDCs are far from sufficient for a 1.5 degrees Celsius path and, moreover, in many cases it is questionable whether the NDCs will even be achieved. "However, another urgent appeal for more climate protection alone would be a completely insufficient outcome of the Global Stocktake." Dr. Lukas Hermwille believes. "Rather, it should point out ways to improve implementation and thus also create new scope for more ambitious targets."

The analysis now published shows that the NDCs and SDGs are insufficiently interlinked. Even within the technical phase of the GST, which has been underway for over a year, an SDG perspective has only been a marginal issue. In practice, however, successfully implemented climate action is almost always linked to synergies between climate action and sustainable development. Conversely, weak or one-sided implementation is often due to a lack of integration of dimensions of sustainability beyond climate action.

In the authors' view, the Global Stocktake should therefore send out a new impulse for stronger integration of the two agendas; both at the international level and nationally. Concrete sector-based instruments are particularly promising for this purpose because successful climate protection policy is necessarily always sector policy as well, be it energy, transport or agricultural policy.

The article "Global stocktake and the SDG midterm review as opportunities for integration" is available free of charge as an online readable version via the following link.
The article was written as part of the project "NDC ASPECTS – Assessing Sectoral Perspectives on Climate Transitions to Support the Global Stocktake and Subsequent Nationally Determined Contributions" which is funded by the European Commission through the Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Program under the grant number 101003866.

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