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Potential strategies to address climate change and environmental degradation

Efforts have to increase for developing strategies to address the root causes of anthropogenic climate change, as well as for building resilience for some of the most severe impacts of climate change and environmental degradation.

  • Since China, USA, EU28, India, Russia and Japan are the world’s largest GHG emitters (pdf) - accounting for some 65% of total GHG emissions - their policies can make the most significant difference to reduce it. While the USA, Japan and Russia showed declining GHG emissions over the past years, China and the EU28 were stagnating, and India's are increasing.
  • Circular Economy could be a moonshot project, helping to reduce CO2 emissions and creating new jobs at local level, decentralised, where the goods and their users are situated.

  • Domestic and trade policies should be used to further encourage GHGs emission reduction – such as factoring in a GHG tax into the cost and the share value of relevant products, services, and companies (which could then be used for subsidising cleaner practices), trade restrictions on environment-unfriendly production and transportation services, condition financial support to environmental impact, etc.
  • Subsidies for fossil fuels and nuclear power should be phased out or at least not to exceed those for renewables. As of 2016, for every $1 spent on renewables, governments spent $4 perpetuating dependence on fossil fuels. 
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[node:31013:view-mode:node_embed]{Potential pathways to reducing CO2 emissions and Ecological Footprint as Content}

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Presently, 55% of the world's population lives in urban areas. By 2050, some 70-80% of the world’s population might be urban. Cities generate more than 80% of global GDP, consume close to 66% of the world’s energy and account for more than 70% of global greenhouse gas emissions. 

Therefore, global sustainability is highly dependent on urban policies. Cities that are able to provide thriving lives within the planet’s resource budget will be successful and resilient.

Urban areas should compute their environmental footprint. In the EU, only a few cities do.

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Efforts should increase for finding and implementing techniques for addressing pollution (e.g. Some 80 million tonnes of polyethylene are produced globally, per year. The wax moth larva might help biodegrading this highly pollutant plastic waste).

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Climate change will amplify existing risks and create new risks for natural and human systems. Risks are unevenly distributed and are generally greater for disadvantaged people and communities in countries at all levels of development. Increasing magnitudes of warming increase the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people, species and ecosystems.

Preparedness and mitigation has to increase to address some of the most severe impacts of climate change and environmental degradation. Strategies to increase resilience should consider:

  • global food security and agricultural income

  • water availability and intensifying competition for water among sectors and countries

  • increasing extinction rates of species and reduction of some ecosystem services

  • human health — ranging from exposure to hazardous waste to impacts of heat-waves and expansion of tropical disease

  • infrastructure destruction.

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The 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals  "are the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. They address the global challenges we face, including those related to poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, and peace and justice. The Goals interconnect and in order to leave no one behind, it ís important that we achieve each Goal and target by 2030."

The SDGs provide a framework for an equitable development of the world within the limits of the planet. They should guide the economic and political agenda of all countries and corporations. SDG-compliance and accountability should be considered as a measure of progress beyond the GDP and profit.

Labels showing SDG-compliance could help rise consumer awareness and change behaviour.

System of fiscal incentives and penalities should help increase corporate social responsibility towards respect of the SDGs. 

SDG Index and Dashboards

The SDG Index and Dashboards Report 2018 notes that although all countries are making progress, overall, no country is on track to achieve all the SDGs by 2030. Progress is slowest on some of the environmental goals, mainly in the poorer countries, which tend to lack adequate infrastructure and mechanisms to manage key environmental issues. The 2018 report is the first ever assessment of government efforts to achieve the SDGs. It found that of the G20 countries,  Brazil, Mexico and Italy have taken the most significant steps to achieve the goals. No G20 country has fully aligned its national budget with the SDGs and only India and Germany have partially undertaken an assessment of investment needs. Sweden, Denmark, and Finland are best performers towards achieving the SDGs. USA ranks 35th, China ranks 54th,  and the Russian Federation ranks 63rd in the Index.

The SDG Index and Dashboards Report 2017 shows that OECD countries face major challenges in meeting several SDGs, mostly on sustainable consumption and production (SDG12), climate change (SDG13), clean energy (SDG7), and ecosystem conservation (SDGs14 and 15); even top ranked countries have “red” score on climate change and other environmental SDGs; poorer countries tend to be closer to the bottom of the rankings, since they lack adequate infrastructure and the mechanisms needed to meet the SDGs; data on each spillover indicator show that high-income countries tend to generate negative SDG spillover effects for poorer developing countries (countries with larger spillover: Switzerland, Singapore, Luxemburg, Netherlands, United Arab Emirates, USA, Belgium, UK). 
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