In order to meet a wide range of goals for the world to become climate-neutral, resource-efficient, technologically advanced, and socially fair, high-level political engagement and action are needed.
The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development, which was adopted by all United Nations Member States, provide a common plan for peace and prosperity for people and the planet. The goal is to end all forms of poverty and achieve global sustainable development in its three dimensions—economic, social, and environmental—by 2030.
The Paris Agreement, a result of the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21), calls for zero carbon dioxide emissions, setting +2ºC as the upper limit of the increase in the average global temperature.
Both frameworks call for deep transformations in every region and require complementary actions by all parts of society: governments, citizens, scientists, and businesses. The UN SDSN, in order to make it more clear how the SDGs could be implemented, suggested six broad transformations in 2019: 1) Education, Gender and Inequality; 2) Health, Wellbeing, and Demography; 3) Energy Decarbonisation and Sustainable Industry; 4) Sustainable Food, Land, Water, and Oceans, 5) Sustainable Cities and Communities; and 6) Digital Revolution for Sustainable Development. Each one lists investments and regulatory problems that need to be dealt with first and asks certain parts of the government to work with business and civil society to find solutions.
Acting as a leading example for the rest of the world, the European Commission introduced in 2019 the European Green Deal (EGD), a comprehensive framework for decarbonizing the European economy, reducing pollution and waste, and placing sustainable development at the center of the European policy agenda. The overarching goal of the Commission is for Europe to be the first territory globally to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. It covers many different economic sectors, such as construction, biodiversity, energy, transport, and food, and a broad range of policy areas, such as clean energy, sustainable industry, buildings and renovation, farm to fork, eliminating pollution, sustainable mobility, biodiversity, and sustainable finance. Both the EGD and the 17-SDGs have similar goals, which means that putting EGD policies into place would help actions that would help reach a number of SDGs.
In order to help with all of these things, the SDSN Global Climate Hub will work, among other things, on the following:
SDSN Europe has gathered a Senior Working Group, consisting of top-level academics and stakeholders, to mobilize expertise for the successful implementation of this transformative regulatory framework. SDSN Europe is ideally placed to provide evidence-based advice to European policy-makers, through the expertise and scientific knowledge of ten networks and over 360 member organisations across the continent.
SDSN’s European Green Deal Senior Working Group is led by Prof. Jeffrey Sachs and Prof. Phoebe Koundouri, both world-renowned economists and global leaders in sustainable development.
The Paris Agreement asks all countries to prepare by 2020 low-emission development strategies that chart out how emissions will fall through to 2050. SDSN has played an instrumental role in developing and popularizing the concept of long-term pathways through the Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project (DDPP). The Paris Agreement also emphasizes the central role of advances in low-emission technologies and their diffusion. The annual Zero Emissions Solutions Conference (formerly the Low-Emissions Solutions Conference) spearheaded by SDSN, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability was launched at COP22 in Morocco and aims to advance the pace of development for key technologies. As scientist and engineers have demonstrated, we have the technologies and means to decarbonize our economy, it’s up to nations, businesses, and cities to set on a course today for a carbon neutral tomorrow.