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New commentary in Nature Climate Change on linking climate protection and sustainable development


The so-called Global Stocktake (GST) is a central element of the Paris Climate Agreement. Every 5 years, parties to the Agreement draw up a balance sheet on their joint progress. At COP28 in Dubai, the first GST will conclude. The political assessment of this first Stocktake is likely to become the most important outcome of this COP, as it will set the framework for the next round of nationally determined contributions (NDCs) that parties will have to submit in 2025. 

In its current issue, the leading journal Nature Climate Change publishes a series of commentaries focusing on different aspects of the GST. Project partners Dr. Lukas Hermwille and Wolfgang Obergassel from the Wuppertal Institute, together with Dr. Adis Dzebo from the Stockholm Environment Institute and Dr. Gabriela Iacobuta from the German Institute of Development and Sustainability (IDOS), argue that a stronger integration of climate action and UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are our best and only chance to achieve the ambitious goals of the Paris Agreement after all.

Because one thing is clear even before the conclusion of the Global Stocktake: we are far from being on the right track. Parties’ NDCs are far from sufficient for a 1.5°C path and, moreover, in many cases it is questionable whether the NDCs will even be achieved. "However, another urgent appeal for more climate protection alone would be a completely insufficient outcome of the Global Stocktake." Dr. Lukas Hermwille believes. "Rather, it should point out ways to improve implementation and thus also create new scope for more ambitious targets." 

The analysis now published shows that the NDCs and SDGs are insufficiently interrelated. Even within the technical phase of the Global Stocktake, which has been underway for over a year, an SDG perspective has only been a marginal issue. In practice, however, successfully implemented climate action is almost always linked to synergies between climate action and sustainable development. Conversely, weak or one-sided implementation is often due to a lack of integration of dimensions of sustainability beyond climate action.

In the authors' view, the Global Stocktake should therefore send out a new impulse for stronger integration of the two agendas; both at the international level and nationally. Concrete sector-based instruments are particularly promising for this purpose, because successful climate protection policy is necessarily always sector policy as well, be it energy, transport or agricultural policy.

The article is available free of charge as an online readable version.