The Euro-Mediterranean Center for Climate Change
  • Date submitted: 1 Nov 2011
  • Stakeholder type: Major Group
  • Name: The Euro-Mediterranean Center for Climate Change
  • Submission Document: Download
Keywords: Adaptation (6 hits),

Full Submission

Sustainable Development and Climate Policy: 20 years later

Climate policy is playing a first role in the political agenda of both developed and developing countries. Today the main concern of climate policy is focused on curbing greenhouse gas emissions with the purpose of limiting global warming.

However, at least 2 degrees of temperature increase are certainly unavoidable, which calls for investments and measures to adapt to forthcoming climate change. A the same time, the present difficult economic situation calls for measures that reduce GHG emissions without harming, rather fostering, economic development.

The Cancun Agreements while reaffirming the clear objectives for reducing human-generated greenhouse gas emissions over time to keep the global average temperature rise below two degrees, it encourages the participation of all countries in reducing these emissions (through their NAMAs - National Appropriate Mitigation Actions), in accordance with each country?s different responsibilities and capabilities to do so.

A new principle seems emerging for a post-Kyoto environment: in order to achieve a new climate agreement we need both domestic and global policy, we need to actively involve developed and developing countries bearing in mind that social and economic development and poverty eradication are the first and overriding priorities of developing countries and that a low-carbon development strategy is indispensable to sustainable development.

There is no doubt that the outcome of different climate policies - if implemented effectively within a cooperative framework - will not only reduce the risks associated with climate change, but will also improve environmental sustainability. Nevertheless reaching an agreement and in particular the challenge of limiting GHG emissions causes social costs affecting developments needs and goals especially in developing countries. If the costs of climate policy fall back on society, especially where it is more vulnerable, it is not certain that climate policy will improve sustainability, as social costs can offset the improvement in the environmental sphere.

At the same time it?s worth to be noticed that Adaptation is called to play an active role in the climate international agreement settings. Economic research is now focusing on the assessment of the optimal mix of Adaptation and mitigation expenditures in a cost-effective setting in which countries cooperate to achieve a long-term stabilisation target (AD-WITCH model developed at CMCC/FEEM).

Besides the NAMAs the Climate conference in Cancun also established a process for least developed countries (LDCs) and other interested developing countries to formulate and implement national Adaptation plans (NAPs) to identify and address their medium and long-term Adaptation needs.

One of the objectives of the Cancun Agreements is to assist the particularly vulnerable people in the world to adapt to the inevitable impacts of climate change.

Again the concept of sustainable development can be part of the solution.

A global climate policy will more likely lead to an overall improvement in sustainability if it is implemented together with policies aimed at improving social and economic welfare.

Low carbon development in the context of sustainable development, and development policies integrating national Adaptation plans. This seems to be the recipe for developing countries.

Further research is needed on how mitigation and Adaptation policies can work together in the context of a sustainable development. At the same time further contribution is required in the definition of sustainable development in order to help governments to take concrete actions in the context of climate change.

A more holistic assessment of climate policy agreements would be desirable and we believe that Rio+20 could represent the ideal arena to further discuss the (climate) policy implications of the sustainable development concept.


FEEM Policy brief 09.2010,

FEEM policy brief 08.2010

FEEM Note di lavoro 2011.069

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