Climate change is a global challenge that does not respect national borders.
If there is one goal that seems to be negatively affecting the progress of other goals, it is Goal 13: Combatting climate change and its impacts. Its effects come at a steep price – disrupting both households and national economies alike. However, unlike t he other 16 goals, the effects of climate change are no respecter of national borders. Countries and regions around the world are experiencing similar issues such as extreme weather events and changing weather patterns (“Climate Action”, n.d.) . Long before Vision 2030 and the SDGs were unfurled, over 180 nations ratified the Paris Agreement to combat apocalyptic planetary warming and to mitigate the effects already being experienced. With the unanimous pledge to reduce carbon emissions and reduce the greenh ouse effects, governments around the world have instituted myriads of policies and initiatives to avert the global crisis that is climate change. Goal 13, like most of the other SDGs, heavily impacts other SDGs, in this case, the other environmental SDGs – Goals 6, 7, 11, 12, 14, and 15.
The EU’s progress towards this goal and some of the other environmental goals has stagnated: some progress has been made towards some of the target indicators while there has been some regression for others. According to t he 2019 Sustainable Report, monitoring the indicators of Goal 13 produced the following results:
17.5% of energy consumed in the EU in 2017 came from renewable sources.
The EU reduced its Greenhouse Gases emissions by 15.4% between 2002 and 2017.
Over the period 1980 to 2017, weather – and climate – related economic losses in EU countries accumulated to EUR 426 billion.
Europe’s mean surface temperature for the decade 2009 – 2018 increased by 1.61 – 1.71 degrees Celsius compared with pre-industrial levels.
The performance of Ireland on Goal 13, like most of the EU, is mixed. Among the member countries, Ireland ranked 13th on all the environmental – related SDGs, its lowest score among its other scores (Murphy, 2019) . Poor wastewater management, lowest rate of recycling as well as a lack of attention to circularity contribute to this low ranking (Murphy, 2019) . Specifically for climate action, the agricultural, transport and energy sector contributed the most to the emission of greenhouse gases all over the country ( “Greenhouse Gases and Climate Change – Central Statistics Office”, 2019 ).
|SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation||5th|
|SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy||12th|
|SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities||8th|
|SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production||14th|
|SDG 13: Climate Action||11th|
|SDG 14: Life Below Water||9th|
|SDG 15: Life on Land||8th|
Despite these, there have been a few recent innovations in advancing the progress of Goal 13 and other environmental related SDGs:
- The EU – Several startups have sprung up all over the EU in reaction to the looming 2030 deadline to tackle climate change. Sympower, one of these startups, is a global minded company looking to enh ance energy assets and reduce carbon emissions by employing smart, green systems via advanced software solutions. So far, they have managed to save approximately 80 billion by reducing carbon emissions (Trajkovska, 2018) . Sofia based Transmetrics provides data solutions for cargo companies in a bid to help them reduce their environmental impact (“Eastern European Startups Take on Climate Change Amid a Divided EU”, 2020.
- The EU – The European Commision under the leadership of Ursula von der Leyen has propose d a green deal: the European Green Deal, aiming to reduce carbon emissions by 55% by 2030. It also includes reviews of the current energy tax scheme and a new carbon tax. This Green Deal promises to deliver on quality of life, natural disaster relief among st others. Strategies such as Farm to Fork (ensuring healthy, fair and environmentally friendly food systems) and the Strategy for Energy System Integration (paving the way for an interconnected, decarbonised energy sector) are all means to support this Gr een Deal (“Eastern European Startups Take on Climate Change Amid a Divided EU”, 2020).
- Ireland – Like the EU, Ireland’s startup scene has also begun to boom in the past few years, especially in response to climate change and environmental impact. Evocco, founded in 2017 helps its users pick the most nutritious food with the lowest environmental impact (Tucker, 2020). Parkio, also founded in 2017, is a parking marketplace with over 11,000 spaces on its platform. Chief amongst its objectives is to reduce the time spent looking for parking space thus reducing the amount of time vehicles spend on the road – leading to a reduction in carbon emissions from our transport sector (Tucker, 2020).
Progress towards Goal 13 will require affordable, sustainable and scalable solutions
The poorest and most vulnerable of our society are more severely impacted by the global canker that is climate change. The realization of Goal 13 positively impacts not just our environment and our oceans, but how our cities run and how sustainable they are for the generations to come. If the apocalyptic effects of this canker are not reversed, life on earth will look different (and not in a good way) in a few years to come. It is imperative that everyone does their part to avert the looming crisis of climate change. Governments and global institutions can only do so much if the people on the ground are not sold on the vision.
The question however is, how do we create sustainable solutions that require the use of renewable energy sources? How do we contribute to the creation of resilient economies that benefit instead of losing on the adoption of cleaner and more efficient fuel sources?
The first step is education; with the rapid dissemination of information over the internet, it is clear that the potential of digital transformation to improve the quality of education for people of all ages can be harnessed to get everyone on board with Vision 2030, particularly with the issue of taking climate action in the decisions that we make even from our bedrooms. Of the total population in Ireland, less than 40% are aware of the SDGs (Ireland: Voluntary National Review 2018, 2018). Strategic plans have been made to increase this percentage: an effort that will result in the acceleration of Vision 2030, especially Goal 13.
Article SourcesClimate Action. Retrieved 2 April 2021, from https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/climate-action/
Eastern European Startups Take on Climate Change Amid a Divided EU. (2020). Retrieved 3 April 2021, from https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/356487
Greenhouse Gases and Climate Change -CSO -Central Statistics Office. (2019). Retrieved 2 April 2021, from https://www.cso.ie/en/releasesandpublications/ep/p-eii/eii19/greenhousegasesandclimatechange/
Government of Ireland. (2018). Ireland: Voluntary National Review 2018[Ebook] (pp. 6-8, 79-83). Retrieved from https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/19382Ireland_Voluntary_National_Review_2018.pdf
Murphy, M. (2019). How is Ireland Performing on the Sustainable Development Goals?. Policy & Practice: A Development Education Review, 28(28), 79-88. Retrieved from https://www.developmenteducationreview.com/issue/issue-28/how-ireland-performing-sustainable-development-goals
SDSN & IEEP. (2019). The 2019 Europe Sustainable Development Report. Paris and Brussels. Retrieved from https://ieep.eu/publications/2019-europe-sustainable-development-report
Trajkovska, B. (2018). 10 European startups that are tackling climate change to literally “change the world.” Retrieved 2 April 2021, from https://www.eu-startups.com/2018/10/10-european-startups-that-are-tackling-climate-change-to-literally-change-the-world/
Tucker, C. (2020). 10 Ireland-based startups to watch in 2020. Retrieved 3 April 2021, from https://www.eu-startups.com/2020/01/10-ireland-based-startups-to-watch-in-2020/