2015 is an important year for our planet’s future. Countries are coming together to agree on outcomes in parallel, but interlinked, processes: the United Nations process on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
There are clear synergies. It is hard to achieve sustainable development without developing a climate-resilient and low-carbon process, and vice versa. Climate change already threatens to reverse sustainable development advances that have been made.
It’s ECO’s view that implementing the SDG and UNFCCC outcomes should be done in an integrated and strategic manner, and we have an idea of how that can be done.
In 2010, UNFCCC Parties agreed that countries should develop low carbon development strategies, but this hasn’t been universally implemented. Now is the time. The beauty of low and zero carbon development strategies is they overlap with sustainable development plans.
Of course, before these plans are developed, countries need to:
– Define an indicative emission reduction trajectory through 2030 and 2040 to achieve decarbonisation by 2050. Advanced economies should achieve this sooner.
– Define mitigation goals for 2020 and 2025, in line with a UNFCCC system of five-year commitment periods.
– Include existing policies and measures to address emissions from all relevant sectors.
– Include measures to avoid double counting of any offset credits that may be used in the short term; however, the emphasis must be on domestic action.
These plans should also mainstream adaptation and climate resilience throughout, taking into consideration the predicted impacts of climate change appropriate to the location.
Development and implementation of these plans will be at the national level, giving opportunities for integrated thinking and cooperation between ministries, and engagement by a wider number of political actors and stakeholders to achieve sustainable development.
ECO thinks Parties should call these plans “zero-carbon climate-resilient action plans.” The title may not be catchy, but you know exactly what the aim is. Importantly, such plans would allow countries to strategically integrate their planned SDGs and UNFCCC implementation, and to develop a sustainable and climate-friendly vision and the implementation pathway to achieve it.