Preserving Our Planet for Future Generations
When it comes to the increasing worries about our environment and the rising global temperatures, there's a group that's been working hard to provide scientific evidence and information to governments. It's called the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and it was created in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The primary objective of the IPCC is to provide governments with scientific evidence on climate change. Over the years, the IPCC has helped everyone understand the causes and effects of climate change, by building a scientific consensus on the causes and consequences of climate change
Climate change is a big problem that affects us all, and it's caused by human activities releasing greenhouse gases (e.g. carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) into the atmosphere. To tackle this global challenge, countries have come together and adopted international agreements like the United-Nations-Framework-Convention-On-Climate-Change (UNFCCC) in 1992, the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, and the Paris-agreement
in 2016. These agreements aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and find ways to adapt to the changing climate.
The fight against climate change and its effects is the focus of Sustainable Development Goal 13 (SDG 13), which was designed with that objective in mind. It is widely considered one of the biggest concerns of our day because of how detrimentally it affects any country's ability to pursue sustainable development. To secure a sustainable future for the world, SDG 13 underlines the urgent need for climate action, adaptation, and resilience-building measures. It acknowledges the relationship between the environment, sustainable growth, and the end of poverty.
Why SDG 13 Matters
Let’s have a look at some facts surrounding climate change and progress being made in its mitigation, adaptation, and scaling resilience.
Fact Sheet: SDG 13 - Climate Action
Temperature Rise: In 2021, the global mean temperature exceeded the pre-industrial level by approximately 1.1°C. The years from 2015 to 2021 ranked as the seven warmest on record.
Projected Temperature Increase: It is projected that the global annual mean temperature will surpass the 1.5°C threshold above pre-industrial levels in at least one of the next five years.
CO2 Emissions: Global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions declined by 5.2% in 2020 due to reduced energy demand amid the COVID-19 pandemic. However, with the easing of restrictions, energy-related CO2 emissions rebounded in 2021, rising by 6% and reaching record levels.
Climate Finance: Developed countries provided and mobilized climate finance amounting to $79.6 billion in 2019, marking a slight increase from $78.3 billion in 2018. However, estimates suggest that annual funding between $1.6 trillion and $3.8 trillion will be required through 2050 for a successful transition to a low-carbon future.
Drought Vulnerability: By the year 2100, around one-third of global land areas are expected to experience moderate drought conditions.
Sea Level Rise: Even with significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and limiting global warming to well below 2°C, sea levels could rise between 30 and 60 centimeters by 2100.
Coral Reef Loss: Approximately 70 to 90 percent of warm-water coral reefs are at risk of disappearing, even if the 1.5°C warming threshold is achieved. The complete extinction of coral reefs would occur at the 2°C level.
Climate Vulnerability: An estimated 3 billion to 3.6 billion people currently live in highly vulnerable contexts susceptible to the impacts of climate change.
Drought-Induced Displacement: By 2030, around 700 million people could be at risk of displacement solely due to drought-related factors.
From the above, we realize that they are several reasons why you should care about taking urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts: for a start, taking action means;
Protecting the planet: Climate change is one of the most significant threats facing our planet today. Through proactive measures to address climate change, we can safeguard the planet and preserve the essential ecological systems that sustain all forms of life.
Public health: With increased air pollution, water scarcity, and more frequent heatwaves lead to increased illness and premature deaths. By reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and transitioning to cleaner forms of energy, we can improve public health and well-being.
Economic stability: The impacts of climate change also have significant economic implications, including damage to infrastructure, loss of property, and increased insurance costs. By taking action to combat climate change and transitioning to a more sustainable economy, we can build a more stable and resilient economy that benefits everyone.
Social justice: Climate change disproportionately affects vulnerable populations, such as low-income communities, who often have fewer resources to adapt to its impacts. By taking action to combat climate change and promoting social justice, we can work towards a more equitable and just society for all.
A Focus on Climate Action
Each Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) includes specific targets, and for climate action, these targets include fostering knowledge and capacity to address climate change, implementing the commitment made by developed countries to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and increasing resilience and adaptability to climate-related disasters.
The increasing CO2 emissions, rising global temperatures, and fragility of ecosystems and communities all serve as indicators of how urgent it is to take action on climate change. There is still a long way to go to reach the goals set forth by SDG 13 notwithstanding some advancements in climate action and the temporary decrease in emissions brought on by the pandemic-related slowdown.
With countries agreeing to reduce global temperature rise and increase resilience, the Paris Agreement, which was enacted in 2015, is regarded as a watershed achievement in global climate governance. A significant increase has been seen in renewable energy, and many countries have adopted climate mitigation and adaptation measures. However, to avoid disastrous repercussions, the existing rate of advancement is insufficient, and immediate action is needed.
A Look at Challenges and Way Forward
The road to achieving SDG 13 is paved with difficulties. The lack of political commitment and inadequate money for climate action are two significant barriers. Governments and corporations don't work together enough. Additionally, combating climate change necessitates international cooperation and the participation of all countries. Another obstacle to achieving environmental sustainability and economic growth is the need for considerable adjustments to industrial processes and energy systems as part of the transition to a low-carbon economy. The adaptation of such a climate action program to national contexts continues to be a major barrier.
It is crucial to take a multifaceted approach to overcome these obstacles. Governments must establish stricter laws and policies that meet their unique local circumstances to lower greenhouse gas emissions, encourage using renewable energy through financial incentives, and improve climate resilience. Engagement from the private sector is essential, as businesses embrace sustainable practices and invest in clean technologies. A culture of environmental stewardship can be promoted by increasing public awareness and educating people about it. To support developing countries' efforts to combat climate change, international collaboration and financial systems must be expanded. Effective collaboration across sectors and countries is essential to tackling climate change.
SDG 13 is crucial for ensuring a sustainable future for our planet and future generations because it places a strong emphasis on addressing climate change. As the effects of climate change worsen, the urgency of this objective cannot be stressed. To protect human rights as well as other Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), combating climate change is essential. Communities may be uprooted as a result of climate change effects like famines and droughts. Human rights problems will become more frequent and severe if mitigation and adaptation to climate change are not prioritized. We can pave the way to a resilient and low-carbon future by embracing renewable energy, enacting strong legislation, and encouraging international cooperation. We must all work together to implement SDG 13 right away to protect the planet for future generations.
Advocates for International Development. (n.d.).
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), (n.d.). Reports. [online]. Available at:Reports — IPCC
United Nations, (2015). Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. [Online]. Available at: https://bit.ly/39wTZ8o
Affairs, U. D. of E. and S., & Development, S. (n.d.).http://www.un.org. https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/climate-change/