Integrating Climate Change in to the Post 2015 Sustainable Development Agenda - Workshop

Tuesday, April 29, 2014
New York
Climate Change in the P2015 Agenda Workshop


1 – There is a clear and explicit link between development and climate change 

Climate change is caused by the way the world has developed since the industrial revolution and its impacts will threaten every aspect of human development from health and food security, to housing and peace and security. Therefore it is first and foremost a development issue; addressing it requires a complete transformation of the way we see development. Business as usual with only minor course corrections will not suffice. 

Nearly all areas covered by the proposed SDGs are directly impacted by or contribute to climate change. Focus areas on economic growth and means of implementation need to address the climate challenge through relevant targets, since they are often framed as important drivers for post-2015 development. 

2 – SDGs must guarantee visibility of climate change as a development issue and provide direction for climate change action 

Climate change needs to be clearly highlighted as one of the most important and urgent challenges for development and poverty eradication. Currently, an appropriate level of visibility is ensured by the focus area on climate change. There are only two other mentions of climate change, under agriculture and sustainable cities respectively. Both are in conjunction with disaster and related to adaptation and resilience. That would not offer sufficient visibility to do justice to the challenge of climate change for the post-2015 development agenda. 

It is important to shift perceptions of climate change from burden-sharing to benefit-sharing, and to highlight the potential for co-benefits. Positive incentives to take climate action are often powerful tools for implementation on the ground. 

3 – The UNFCCC and post-2015 processes can complement each other 

The timelines for decision-making over the next 18 months mean that there are opportunities for each process to complement the other. The two processes are different in nature, which means they offer complementarity, rather than competition: the UNFCCC provides the legal basis for concrete steps, while the SDGs can help with implementation through an integrated approach to climate and 

development, and can ensure that climate change is kept high on the agenda over the next 15 years. SDGs can also address specific sectors where efforts on climate change mitigation and adaptation should be made. 

The post-2015 process can also contribute to raising ambition and awareness of decisions taken at upcoming COPs in Lima and Paris. COP 21 will be a pivotal moment – maybe even a last chance – to achieve keeping global warming below 2 degrees C, which is the one aim behind which countries have united. 

4 – Differentiation according to country contexts is crucial for a universal approach, particularly for a climate change goal 

Different readings of CBDR emerged in the discussion but with general willingness to find a way forward, while ensuring that the basic concept is preserved. The need for differentiated responsibilities of countries in relation to both finance and emissions reduction should be recognized. To find consensus on differentiation, a constructive attitude that focuses more on potential than pitfalls is required. This could include alternative language that preserves the intention of CBDR but makes the concept applicable to the broad remit of the post-2015 agenda. It would further be important to investigate the link to historic responsibilities. 

National implementation strategies will be needed to operationalise the framework that inspires action on sustainable development. Rich countries will be required to do a lot of “heavy lifting” to move to a trajectory of sustainable development that leads to convergence. National governments need to face the difficult challenge of rapidly decarbonising their economies sufficiently. 

5 – Advantages of a dedicated goal on climate change 

The internationally agreed UNFCCC objective to keep global warming below 2 degrees C must be highlighted. Climate change directly threatens development and poverty eradication giving it weight that warrants a dedicated goal. A climate change goal as currently outlined in the OWG on SDG working document would not interfere with or prejudge the outcomes of the Paris COP. A “placeholder” goal completed on the basis of COP21 outcomes is also more likely to result in action across different sectors to ensure that global warming remains below 2 degrees C. On the other hand, a goal based on already existing agreements in the UNFCCC would have the advantage that it underlines and reinforces the UNFCCC process and positively contributes to its achievement. 

6 – The success of the SDGs will depend on means of implementation 

Decarbonising the global economy will require accelerated progress and technological breakthroughs. This requires substantial increases in research and development, and capacity building through public financing for research and development (the GCF could play a key role in this), accountable partnerships for technology transfer, and ensuring that LDCs particularly can benefit from innovations. Intellectual property rights, for example in the pharmaceutical sector, should provide an incentive for research and development, not a barrier for access by those who need it the most. 

These key messages represent a summary of the discussion during the workshop but not the position of any particular government or organization present.