Connecting the Paris Agreement with Sustainable Development Goals

Connecting the Paris Agreement with Sustainable Development Goals

Energy for adaptation: connecting the Paris Agreement with the Sustainable Development Goals
Marinella Davide, Enrica De Cian and Alexis Bernigaud
Working Papers from Department of Economics, University of Venice "Ca' Foscari" , No 2018:25 - Nov 2018

The (Intended) Nationally Determined Contributions – (I)NDCs in short – submitted under the Paris Agreement provide a unique wealth of information regarding adaptation priorities and plans across a large number of countries.

In a recent working paper we show how these documents provide a novel opportunity to investigate the energy needs of adaptation, as well as the implications for sustainable development, two topics that has received low recognition in the literature so far.

The climate actions described in these (I)NDCs reveal that several adaptation options consistently mentioned across different countries are associated with energy use, being:

  1. energy-­intensive  or related to energy-­intensive  sectors (e.g. dams, desalination),
  2. preconditions for access to basic energy services (e.g. rural electrification),
  3. required to access energy in order to spread their benefits and reach targeted population (e.g. early warning systems),
  4. potentially energy savers (e.g. energy efficiency, irrigation efficiency).

In the 138 (I)NDCs including adaptation strategies, we identified 20 different energy for adaptation options.  Only 6 of them lead to  future potential energy  savings while the other 14 options are more likely to increase energy use.

EI measures refer to energy increasing options, ES are energy saving while RES options use renewables.

However, the majority of countries (65%) plan to rely on renewable sources when mentioning particularly energy-­intensive options such as irrigation, desalination, water distribution, space heating and cooling, water heating, but still, the risk of maladaptation remains. This would be related to possible distributional implications, high  opportunity costs, private adaptation, and path dependency.

Some forms of reactive adaptation – such as the installation of air conditioning – have lower cost in the short-­run if compared to proactive strategies such as upgrading new and existing buildings, which however have  larger pay-­offs in the long-­term especially in terms of achieving multiple sustainable goals.

Energy use for adaptation has certainly a strong potential to support development, especially regarding the dimensions articulated by SDG 11 (Inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable cities and human settlements),  SDG2 (Zero hunger), and SDG3 (Healthy lives and well-­being for all).

From  a  policy  viewpoint,  our framework  highlights the adaptation  actions  with potential co-­benefits for mitigation and sustainable development. This may be particularly useful for designing the mechanisms  aimed at promoting  mitigation and  adaptation while  supporting sustainable development in the context of the Paris Agreement.

Yet, our analysis only elucidates the potential direction adaptation could take, should countries actually implement the options described. To understand more on this crucial issue, future researcher should quantify the energy requirements of these adaptation options, thanks for instance to Model-­based analyses.