Integrating Climate Change in the Post-2015 Development Agenda

Mar 16th, 2014 | By | Category: Books, Publication

2014-03-16-222303_1440x900_scrotAt the Rio+20 conference, member states of the United Nations (UN) expressed concern about the scale and gravity of the impacts of climate change. These impacts affect all countries and undermine their ability, particularly in developing countries, to achieve sustainable development and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). 1 This concern was later reflected in reports and proposals which have contributed to debate
about the post-2015 development agenda. 2 The Open Working Group (OWG), established by the Rio+20 conference and charged with formulating a proposal for the post-2015 development goals 3 , recognised during its seventh session that climate change can ‘seriously jeopardize social and economic development gains in the years and decades to come.’

The urgency of action on climate change, acknowledged by members of the OWG, is supported by climate science. From current trends, we are heading for a global average temperature increase between 3°C and 5°C by the end of the century. 4 Limiting climate change to 2°C warming, the current target of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will require substantial and sustained reductions of greenhouse gas emissions. 5 Even in a world 2°C warmer, development gains will be undermined and attaining and maintaining the post-2015 objectives will be made more difficult and costly.

Climate change and development are inextricably linked. People living in poverty are disproportionately affected by the impacts of climate change, and actions to address climate change can have major implications for development choices and outcomes. At the same time, the achievement of global climate change objectives will depend on development decisions taken across sectors and in all countries. Well-designed policies and investments that advance social and economic development can often simultaneously tackle the causes and consequences of climate change. While the grave threat to sustainable development and poverty eradication that climate change presents may be recognised by the OWG, how climate change will be included in the post-2015 goal framework remains undecided. 6 With the post-2015 development agenda, financing for development discussions, negotiations towards a 2015 UNFCCC climate agreement and revision of the Hyogo Framework for Action all taking place concurrently, the challenge is how to reap benefits from aligning development and climate frameworks and how to effectively integrate climate action into development strategies. The coincidence of these global governance milestones in 2015 presents a critical and rare opportunity for global leaders to send the right signals to the wider world at precisely the time when strong signals need to be sent in order avoid dangerous climate change.

This paper contributes towards the dialogue on these inter-related issues, by briefly outlining the significance of climate change for different development objectives and the options for integrating climate change into the post-2015 development framework. 7 The option of leaving climate change to the UNFCCC and not including it in the post-2015 development agenda is not considered, because the crucial importance of climate change for poverty reduction and sustainable development is so widely recognised, not least by Rio+20, that its omission is now hard to conceive.

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