Can the Paris Agreement support achieving the Sustainable Development Goals?

Can the Paris Agreement support achieving the Sustainable Development Goals?

Can the Paris Agreement Support Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals? on
Lorenza Campagnolo and Enrica De Cian
Ancillary Benefits of Climate Policy , Eds. W.Buchholz, A.Markandya, D.Rübbelke and S.Vögele - December 2019

The book “Ancillary Benefits of Climate Policy” edited by Wolfgang Buchholz, Anil Markandya, Dirk Rübbelke and Stefan Vögele have been published last December by Springer Climate.

We contributed to the effort by drafting Chapter I which proposes a quantitative assessment of Paris Agreement contribution in achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Our analysis considers 27 indicators, including 16 SDGs, collected for world countries in the past 30 years. We investigated through statistical techniques how these values are actually correlated with significant socioeconomic variables and designed a business-as-usual scenario using a Computable General Equilibrium model to obtain SDG indicator projections up to 2030.

If an indicator value reaches 100, the target is met. SDG-specific indices are also computed as the average score of related indicators. Moreover, the average score across all SDGs gives us the Aggregated Sustainable Development goals Index (ASDI), therefore measuring countries’ ability to meet the overall 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Compared to 2007, almost all regions will be closer to achieve the different SDGs target in 2030 – with Rest of Europe being the best performer with an overall score of 71 over 100, but some important gaps will remain.

Regional progresses in achieving SDGs in the baseline scenario, 2007 vs. 2030

Progresses will be more evident in developing and emerging countries. Most will experience a robust improvement in social SDGs as poverty (SDG1), undernutrition (SDG2), health (SDG3), education (SDG4), and equity (SDG10). Yet, we observe a worsening of certain environmental SDGs in these same countries: namely, climate action (SDG13), sustainable water use (SDG6) and industrial efficiency (SDG9). In developed countries, we will witness a stronger environmental degradation coupled with a worsening of some economic SDGs, as for instance economic growth – SDG8 will determine small progresses towards sustainability or even a halt in some cases, as for the EU28.

If we consider a 2030 scenario in which countries implement the Paris Agreement as indicated in their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to curb global warming, we can see some progresses for all regions, excluding for Middle-East and North Africa, which is essentially unaffected.

SDG13 on climate action is naturally the most sensitive index to the mitigation policies envisaged by the NDCs. EU28 is the region benefiting the most because of its ambitious mitigation targets, whereas Middle East and North Africa lags behind due to loose NDCs or the lack of them, as in Egypt for instance.

SDG7 Sustainable and clean energy is the second index benefiting the most from the implementation of the Paris Agreement. Mitigation policies trigger a more intensive use of clean energy sources, a lower primary energy intensity and in most of regions it will not hinder progresses on electricity access. Water use (SDG6) and industrial sector (SDG9) will also be more sustainable in all regions while the effects of NDCs policies on urban sustainability (SDG11) and sustainable consumption (SDG12) will look more heterogeneous.

The economic SDGs show however conflicting results. The carbon tax revenue will improve government accounts and debt sustainability (SDG17) in Latin and Central America, Asia, and North America but in the other regions the change is not perceivable as this indicator value is unsustainable even in the baseline scenario. Economic growth (SDG8) slows down in regions with ambitious climate policies and a leakage effect emerges where the interventions are too light, as in the Middle East and North Africa.

 Paris Agreement implications on SDGs in 2030 (change in percentage points with respect to 2030 baseline)

Lastly, we can see that social indicators are slightly negatively affected by the costs of mitigation. For instance, Africa shows a slow-down in poverty and undernutrition reduction (SDG1 and SDG2). However, inequality (SDG10) positively (negatively) reacts to ambitious (loose) mitigation targets, but this effect is not enough to compensate the rise of poverty due to increasing policy costs. It is therefore important to design pro-poor carbon revenue recycling schemes and combine mitigation actions with other development policies.