How close is the world to meeting the challenge of the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 13 on climate action? According to the UN report 2020 on SDGs “the world is way off track to meet the Paris Agreement target, signalling cataclysmic changes ahead.”
SDG 13 aims to “take urgent action to combat climate change and its impact” through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), while focusing on each member nation’s efforts to integrate the SDG 13 targets into their policies on climate change. The Paris Agreement builds upon the UNFCC, seeking “to limit global warming to 1.5C,” such that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions start to fall by 7.6% each year starting in 2020. SDG 13 is also considered alongside efforts to build more climate-resilient economies and societies as noted in the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015–2030.
GHG emissions declined worldwide at the onset of COVID-19; however, these emissions are expected to rise, as governments lift pandemic-related restrictions on people. In July 2020, the International Energy Agency (IEA) reported that the world had no more than 6 months left to avert a climate crisis and to prevent a surge of GHG emissions. Without full commitment from governments worldwide, there is little hope to reverse the climate crisis. It will also be worth considering how SDG 13 and other SDGs are implicated in sustainable development efforts among Indigenous communities in Canada.
By Leela Viswanathan
(Photo Credit: Denys Nevozhai)