Sustainable Climate

The dual relationship between climate change and Sustainable Development

There is a dual relationship between sustainable development and climate change. On the one hand, climate change influences key natural and human living conditions and thereby also the basis for social and economic development, while on the other hand, society’s priorities on sustainable development influence both the GHG emissions that are causing climate change and the vulnerability.

Climate policies can be more effective when consistently embedded within broader strategies designed to make national and regional development paths more sustainable. This occurs because the impact of climate variability and change, climate policy responses, and associated socio-economic development will affect the ability of countries to achieve sustainable development goals. Conversely, the pursuit of those goals will in turn affect the opportunities for, and success of, climate policies.

Climate change impacts on development prospects have also been described in an interagency project on poverty and climate change as ‘Climate Change will compound existing poverty. Its adverse impacts will be most striking in the developing nations because of their dependence on natural resources, and their limited capacity to adapt to a changing climate. Within these countries, the poorest, who have the least resources and the least capacity to adapt, are the most vulnerable’ (African Development Bank et al., 2003).

Recognizing the dual relationship between SD and climate change points to a need for the exploration of policies that jointly address SD and climate change. A number of international study programmes, including the Development and Climate project (Halsnæs and Verhagen, 2007), and an OECD development and environment directorate programme (Beg et al., 2002) explore the potential of SD-based climate change policies. Other activities include projects by the World Resources Institute (Baumert et al., 2002), and the PEW Centre (Heller and Shukla, 2003). Furthermore, the international literature also includes work by Cohen et al., 1998; Banuri and Weyant, 2001; Munasinghe and Swart 2000; Metz et al., 2002; Munasinghe and Swart, 2005; Schneider et al., 2000; Najam and Rahman, 2003; Smit et al., 2001; Swart et al., 2003; and Wilbanks, 2003).