Screenshot / German Development Institute

Climate change has become threatening to the world as the average global temperature can cause irreversible changes in the Earth’s climate system. The average global temperature is currently slightly over 1°C above pre-industrial levels; however, if the temperature continues to rise to 1.5°C, climate change would become unmanageable, which would affect those living in developing countries the most. The atmosphere does not discriminate against the North and the South which means that climate change will affect both the Global North and the Global South; however, its effects on the Global South will be much more detrimental.  

Although global economies slowed down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, emissions continue to rise as countries have delayed the establishment of climate policies and actions. Under current policies, the emission gap between now and the 2050 net-zero emission goal is 47-gigatonnes of carbon dioxide. Despite this, COVID-19 has shown how quickly the world can work in accordance of sharing information and innovations which provides great hope in regards to combating climate change. 

Calls to action: the need for wealthy countries to help poorer countries   

Since the Paris Agreement was ratified in 2016, global greenhouse gas emissions have continued to rise with developing countries and emerging economies accounting for two-thirds of annual emissions while developed countries remain at stagnant, but elevated levels. Developed countries need to pave the way for countries in the global South by taking action towards reducing emissions through climate policies and innovations like green technology. Climate change and sustainable development are matters that prioritize national self-interest as much as it does for international solidarity.  

Current efforts still fall short in regards of the 2050 goals. In many countries, their actions towards the climate target are contradicting and climate policies are not being implemented consistently. Many emerging economies believe that mitigating climate change is a burden and continue to emit greenhouse gases. There is much to be done to succeed in attaining the climate goals. Many nations have set nationally determined contributions to reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions: the EU has set a target of at least a 55% reduction in emissions in 2030 with carbon neutrality by 2050 while 127 countries have declared intent on achieving net-zero carbon emissions.  

Integration between climate policy and sustainable development 

Presently, the integration of climate policy and sustainable development needs to be pursued since they both are interconnected in many ways. For example, by expanding clean, renewable energy, greenhouse gas reductions are also being reduced. Global energy consumption is crucial for attaining a stable climate which draws attention to the reduction of emission-intensive energy systems. The Goals of the Paris Agreement are unquestionably linked to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development since climate policies promote national development ambitions and climate policies can only be obtained in line with the SDGs. 

Constructing a plan at the international level would generate confidence for developing countries. Establishing international climate funding to finance climate policy and support for developing countries and emerging economies would allow them to be more open to taking action concerning climate change. Additionally, there is a need for individual action areas like global energy production, the political design of urbanization, sustainable agriculture, forest and ecosystem conservation, and maintenance of global freshwater resources, in order to accommodate to both climate policy and sustainable development. 

Modernizing energy production around the world 

To ensure sustainable socio-economic development, tackling poverty, and decreasing social inequalities, there must be a reliable and accessible source of affordable clean energy. Innovations and new technological development are needed to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy systems. Emphasizing the importance of inclusive institutions could influence the local and national system in transitioning to renewable energy.  

Making urbanization climate-friendly 

By 2050, two-thirds of the world’s population is projected to live in cities due to rapid urbanization in developing countries, especially in African countries and China. At the moment, urban areas contribute to three-quarters of global energy-related carbon emissions. It is essential to take measures to prevent the inevitable rise of emissions. This can be done through the promotion of low-emission transportation such as public transport fueled by renewable energy and integrated spatial planning, and investing in urban infrastructure that are climate-friendly and climate-resilient. 

Safeguarding global food security with low emissions 

Agriculture and food security play a critical role for developing countries; however, 80% of the world’s greenhouse gas emission from agriculture are produced by developing countries. By advocating for climate-friendly and climate-safe technologies and practices in the production of agriculture, reducing the production of meat and dairy products, and taking measures to prevent harvest loss and waste, emissions could be lowered drastically while feeding the growing population. 

Conserving forests and ecosystems 

Ecosystems, forests, wetlands, and oceans act as carbon sinks, securing about half the carbon emissions from the atmosphere caused by humans. It is imperative to conserve these ecosystems since their destruction implies a higher concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. To maintain these ecosystems and forests, climate policies should be formulated with ecosystem conservation taken into account. Deforestation makes up of 7% of global carbon emissions alone. Minimizing deforestation and safeguarding local communities’ land rights can reinforce their responsibility to the forest. 

Taking account of sustainable water use 

Water is essential for all life on Earth; however, four billion people, mostly in developing countries, do not have safe access to clean water. The promotion of efficient water use and integrated water resources management (IWRM), reduction of emissions from wastewater, and aiding governance reform in the water sector are ways to help provide clean and safe water while limiting the amount of greenhouse gas emissions. 

Climate policy and sustainable development are interconnected and rely on the assistance of developed countries to support developing countries and emerging economies in recognizing their role in regards to climate change. The efforts made towards achieving the climate goals are insufficient, since many countries are not acting consistently with implementing climate policy and most emerging economies continue to emit greenhouse gases. Currently, the need for climate policy and sustainable development needs to be pursued by setting a course at the international level, systematically incorporating climate risks, creating frameworks for strong national engagement, and identifying and prioritizing promise action areas.