SDG 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
SDG 13 commits the international community to take urgent action on climate change mitigation and adaptation, noting the need for awareness-raising, capacity-building and financing. Climate risk is the most important systemic risk for the near future, but climate change is proceeding faster than humanity is tackling the problem.
There is no country that is not experiencing the drastic effects first-hand. The global context chapter (chapter I) provides data on growth in emissions and trends in the carbon intensity of the economy. It highlights the urgency of more ambitious actions if the international community wants to avoid the worst impacts of climate change by limiting the average temperature increase to 1.5°C (section 4). Chapter III.A discusses how national fiscal systems are crucial for transitioning the world to a sustainable, lowcarbon economy. Carbon pricing and other environmental taxation can help steer economic activities away from high emissions, while at the same time generating fiscal revenues (section 4). Climate change adaptation can be bolstered by expenditure on disaster resilience and setting incentives for disaster risk reduction (section 4.4). Chapter III.B highlights that investors are gradually recognizing that the performance of companies on environmental issues may affect their financial performance (section 2). They are thus incorporating these elements into their investment decisions. Policy measures should complement private initiatives, and help build a policy environment that aligns private sector incentives with public goals (for example, through carbon pricing) and strengthens accountability. These measures include promoting more meaningful and harmonized sustainability reporting by corporations and clarifying the fiduciary duties of institutional investors. The impact of climate risks on financial sector returns, risks and stability is also considered in chapter III.F (section 3), which highlights the role that credit rating agencies can play in assessing and publishing these risks. Chapter III.C reviews progress towards the commitment made by developed-country parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to jointly mobilize $100 billion annually by 2020 to support the climate financing needs of developing countries. Climate finance is the SDG means of implementation target 13.a. The report highlights how access to climate finance for the poorest and most vulnerable countries will need to be improved (section 6.2). Lessons on governance and institutional coordination of climate financing are also covered in chapter II (box 4). Chapter III.C also highlights the importance of international cooperation for resilience building, to support developing countries’ disaster risk reduction strategies, and the particular relevance of ex ante financial instruments to incentivize risk reduction (section 6.1). Chapter III.G notes that green technology transfer was meant to be a key element of the UNFCCC Clean Development Mechanism. It reports that the bulk of environmentally sound technologies have been developed in response to explicit and strong government support, providing Governments with leverage to disseminate them more broadly in the larger public interest (section 5). Promoting planning and management is the SDG means of implementation target 13.b, and chapter II lays out steps for countries to develop institutional coordination mechanisms for more effective planning (section 4.1).