Without maximizing actions to combat climate change and its impacts, the global aim of enhancing human welfare looks far from being realized.
In the 2030 agenda for achieving sustainable development, a clear commitment to protect the planet from destruction was made by the 193 UN member states (1). This informed goals such as SDG number 13: Climate action, which also revealed that climate change alone can impact negatively other aspects of lives hence several other SDGs both in the short and long term run. The underlining aim of the 17 SDGs is human welfare (welfare of both present and future generations). Without maximizing actions to combat climate change and its impacts, this aim looks far from being realized.
Below are ways active progress on climate action matters in achieving other SDGs.
Climate action and SDG 1: End Poverty
The World Bank reports that climate change can drive more than 100 million people into poverty by the end of 2030 (2). 3 out of 4 people living in poverty rely on agriculture and natural resources (3) as a main source of livelihood. Effects of climate change such as unpredictable weather patterns, shifting seasons and natural disasters further make it harder for such people to meet their livelihood demands and escape poverty. The effects of climate change on the economic lives of populations affects the poor more resulting in more inequalities across populations.
Climate action and SDG 2: Zero Hunger
The effects of climate change such as the change in rainfall patterns, increased in average temperature, droughts, rise in sea levels and flooding affect food production. In places such as Africa and South Asia, agriculture is mainly dependent on rainfall. Changes in rainfall patterns pose a dangerous threat to their food production hence causing food problems, and shortage. Climate change also affects food prices and access, because harvested produce is at the risk of spoilage due to changes in temperature to which the produces aren’t adapted to. These problems faced as a result of climate change are a threat to achieving zero hunger even if, efforts are heightened to achieve zero hunger without consideration for climate action.
Climate action and SDG 3: Good Health & Well Being
Climate change is a major threat to human health. According to WHO, 4.2 million lives are lost due to air pollution each year (4). The pollutants causing these air pollutions are not different from pollutants causing climate change (2). Progressing the SDG 13 fight will help in reducing these deaths, and in effect achieve good health and well-being across populations.
Climate change can also reduce the nutritional value of cultivated food. Studies have proved that higher CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere reduce the protein, zinc and iron content of crops. The number of people with zinc and protein deficiencies has been projected to increase with estimated values of 175 million and 122 million respectively by 2050 (5).
Climate action and SDG 7: Affordable & Clean Energy
One of the major causes of climate change is from energy usage and production by the release of greenhouse gases. The relationship between SDG 13 and SDG 7 is such that, any action on climate will almost automatically look into producing clean energy and vice versa.
In 2019, UNDP Tanzania office installed a hybrid solar power system at the UN House in Dar es Salaam after previously depending on grid power backed by diesel generators which apart from its air and sound pollution potential, was expensive. According to the acting director Bureau of Management Services, Kianni Wignayara, “These solar panels will enable UN House to offset 68 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually, and further result in an estimated US$34,618 in annual energy savings (7).
Climate action and SDG 8: Decent Work & Economic Growth
Initiatives centred around action on climate is a viable way of creating, and increasing job opportunities. Green technologies do not only cause the reduction, and elimination of climate change, but provide avenues for employment and economic growth. A report by the Global Commission on the Economy & Climate revealed that bold climate action could result in at least US$26 trillion in economic benefits by 2030(6). New jobs, competitiveness and market opportunities, economic savings and improve well-being for people worldwide are other real benefits included according to the report (6). The building of biogas digesters, an example of green technology has now become a growing trend, good business, and source of livelihood for quite some people in Ghana.
Climate action and SDGs 14 and 15: Life below Water and Life on Land
31% of CO2 produced by human are absorbed by the ocean causing the ocean to be polluted (8). This is alarming considering that, the ocean covers 3 quarters of the earth surface. This polluted ocean has resulted in depleted fisheries and loss of coastal habitats. A different story from this cannot be given in the case of life on land. Swift actions by government and individuals on the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change will help in realizing these two separate goals through climate action.
To conclude, as evident as it is that climate action impacts, and gives a clear route towards achieving other SDGs, it is imperative and highly necessary that governments, individuals and other social actors and stakeholders further invest to make SDG13 a priority. This will strengthen the world in mobilizing the resources for the rest of the global agenda without a possible decline after achieving them individually. Investing in SDG 13 will smoothen the process towards the realization of all these goals, and others not mentioned.
- United Nations. Climate Change [Internet]. [Cited 2020 Dec 30]. Available from: https://sdgs.un.org/topics/climate-change
- Green C. 9 Reasons We Need Progress on Climate Action and The Sustainable Development Goals [Internet]. [Cited 2020 Dec 30]. Available from: https://unfoundation.org/blog/post/9-reasons-we-need-progress-on-climate-action-and-the-sustainable-development-goals/
- Mercy Corps. The facts: How Climate Change Affects People Living In Poverty [Internet]. [Cited 2020 Dec 30]. Available from: https://www.mercycorps.org/blog/climate-change-poverty
- World Health Organization. Air Pollution [Internet]. [Cited 2020 Dec 30]. Available from: https://www.who.int/health-topics/air-pollution#tab=tab_1
- International Food Policy Research Institute. Rising CO2, Climate Change Projected To Reduce Availability of Nutrients Worldwide [Internet]. [Cited 2020 Dec 30]. Available from: www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/07/190718085308.htm
- The New Climate Economy. Unlocking the Inclusive Growth Story of The 21st Century: Accelerating Climate Action In Urgent Times [Internet]. [Cited 2020 Dec 31]. Available from: http://newclimateeconomy.report/2018/
- United Nations Development Programme. A New Era for Clean Energy in Tanzania [Internet]. [Cited 2020 Dec 31]. Available from: https://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/stories/a-new-era-for-clean-energy-in-tanzania.html
- Rosane O. Oceans Absorb Almost 1/3 Of Global CO2 Emissions But At What Cost? [Internet]. [Cited 2020 Dec 31]. Available from: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/03/oceans-do-us-a-huge-service-by-absorbing-nearly-a-third-of-global-co2-emissions-but-at-what-cost