Featured Report

Implications of sustainable development considerations for comparability across nationally determined contributions

Gokul Iyer, Katherine Calvin, Leon Clarke, James Edmonds, Nathan Hultman, Corinne Hartin, Haewon McJeon, Joseph Aldy & William Pizer

Nature Climate Change

29 January 2018

Abstract: An important component of the Paris Agreement is the assessment of comparability across nationally determined contributions (NDCs). Indeed, game-theory literature on international environmental agreements highlights the need for comparable emission-mitigation efforts by countries to avoid free-riding. At the same time, there are well-recognized links between mitigation and other national priorities, including but not limited to the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which raises the question of how such links might influence comparability assessments. Here, using a global integrated assessment model, we demonstrate that geographical distributions of the influence of meeting the domestic mitigation component of the NDCs on a subset of the broader SDGs may not align with distributions of effort across NDCs obtained from conventional emissions-based or cost-based comparability metrics. This implies that comparability assessments would be altered if interactions between mitigation and other SDGs were accounted for. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the extent to which these distributions differ depends on the degree to which mitigation activities directly affect broader SDGs domestically and indirectly affect international goals, and whether these effects are synergistic or antagonistic. Our analysis provides a foundation for assessing how comparability across NDCs could be better understood in the larger context of sustainability.

You can access the paper on Nature's website here.


Affiliated Publications

Climate Change Risk and the Maryland State Retirement and Pension System

Matthew Binsted, Nathan Hultman, Wes L. Hanson, Alan Miller, Travis St. Clair

September 2017

Center for Global Sustainability

Climate change poses a real and meaningful threat to economies, industries, and companies at global, national, and local levels. The physical impacts of climate change create multiple, well-documented risks to people, governments, and business, but the risks are not limited to physical damages: other important risks include loss of competitiveness and value associated with the transition to a low carbon economy, and legal liability for the mismanagement of such risks. These risks are particularly relevant to public pension funds, which have long-running, predefined obligations to beneficiaries and need to sustain growth over longer time horizons.

Download the report here.


Poverty eradication in a carbon constrained world

Klaus Hubacek, Giovanni Baiocchi, Kuishuang Feng & Anand Patwardhan

24 October 2017

Nature Communications

Abstract: The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change aims to keep warming below 2 °C while recognizing developing countries’ right to eradicate extreme poverty. Poverty eradication is also the first of the Sustainable Development Goals. This paper investigates potential consequences for climate targets of achieving poverty eradication. We find that eradicating extreme poverty, i.e., moving people to an income above $1.9 purchasing power parity (PPP) a day, does not jeopardize the climate target even in the absence of climate policies and with current technologies. On the other hand, bringing everybody to a still modest expenditure level of at least $2.97 PPP would have long-term consequences on achieving emission targets. Compared to the reference mitigation pathway, eradicating extreme poverty increases the effort by 2.8% whereas bringing everybody to at least $2.97 PPP would increase the required mitigation rate by 27%. Given that the top 10% global income earners are responsible for 36% of the current carbon footprint of households; the discourse should address income distribution and the carbon intensity of lifestyles.

You can access the paper on Nature's website here.