Goal 13 calls for urgent action against climate change. Currently, the world is falling short of the commitments enshrined in the Paris Climate Agreement. According to the most recent UN report, in order to achieve the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C, emissions must drop to 25 gigatons. Greenhouse gas emissions, however, continue to rise and are currently on track to reach over 56 gigatons by 2030.
The UN’s 2030 targets for climate action include:
- Ensuring resilience, especially among vulnerable populations, to natural disasters and other climate impacts.
- Increasing flows of financial resources to renewable energy investments, energy efficiency, and other sustainable sectors, especially for developing countries.
- Building capacity and raising awareness through measures such as education and technology transfer.
To assist in advancing these targets, the UN seeks to raise 100 billion USD for the Green Climate Fund (GCF). The GCF provides funding for least developed and small island nations to help them mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change. Currently, pledges from developed countries are lacking, and private sector initiatives are not filling the gap.
The stories contained in this collection illustrate solutions addressing climate change. To spur investment, the Climate Policy Initiative’s (CPI) Global Innovation Lab for Climate Finance is working to develop new financial products. But will private sector efforts be enough to fill the current shortfall in financing for sustainable projects?
Read about how locals are taking action into their own hands. In the city of Detroit, the Women of Empowerment are leading projects that range from solar panel installations to lawsuits with the goal to ensure that Detroit’s east side engages in climate-resilient city planning. We also see how citizen engagement, organized with the help of Costa Rica Limpia (Clean Costa Rica), is a significant component in Costa Rica’s path toward sustainability.
Efforts to rejuvenate the soil are crucial to mitigating the effects of climate change. Learn about villagers in northeastern India working on the front line of conservation and reforestation. In California, farmers are employing new methods to increase the capacity of soil to retain water and absorb carbon by planting "weeds"!
Click here for more stories in the Solutions Story Tracker on Climate action.
- Define the terms “emissions gap” and “commitment gap” and explain the significance of each in relation to the 2030 goals.
- Compare and contrast the roles that financial mechanisms such as the Green Climate Fund and the financial tools developed by the Climate Policy Initiative’s (CPI) Global Innovation Lab for Climate Finance play in supporting climate action.
- Read the article by Dan Charles on Penn State’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. What made the program successful? Identify strategies that led to the University-wide effort to reduce emissions. Then, consider whether similar strategies could work outside of the University—why or why not?
- Evaluate the effectiveness of tree-planting programs in mitigating climate change. During the Great Depression, the Works Progress Administration put 8.5 million unemployed Americans to work rebuilding and expanding the nation’s infrastructure. Determine whether you think such a model could be replicated now to combat climate change. Articulate what such a program might look like.Examine at least two other SDGs and their targets alongside Goal 13. Then, either explain or illustrate how the targets of these SDGs relate or influence one another.
- Choose an Issue Area or a Success Factor related to Goal 13. Then, create a collection and select at least 4 (or more) stories from the Solution’s Story Tracker that relate to your topic. If working with groups, each group can present on the issues and solutions they found most compelling.
- The UN’s Gap Report examines the growth of greenhouse gas emissions, indicating that we are far exceeding where we need to be to reach the goal of containing a global average temperature rise to 1.5°C. The gap between our targets and reality represents the “emissions” gap. The commitment gap points more specifically to differences in what countries have agreed to do by signing onto the Paris Climate Agreement, and what they are actually doing. You may wish to have students choose a signatory country and examine what is being done and reported on the national level. Consider also the countries—such as the United States—that play a controversial role by rejecting the agreement.
- While the Green Climate Fund seeks to raise capital from member nations to help those countries most vulnerable to climate change, the UN is far short of its $100 billion goal. IT has been difficult to convince nations to pledge increasing amounts to the GCF, especially when international leaders such as the United States have been slow to embrace the project. Meanwhile the Global Innovation Lab for Climate Finance seeks to develop tools more attractive to the private sector. By creating financial products that reduce overall risk, the goal is to incentivize more private sector investment into sustainable ventures.
- By showing the University administrators that cutting emissions makes the University more efficient, activists at Penn State helped bolster support for making the campus greener. Collective action between university faculty, students, and administrators ultimately led to results. However, most cities and communities are far more complex than a university—meaning that there are more voices and interests at the table. The article discusses some of these limitations in scaling Penn State’s successes.
- While tree-planting is certainly a tool in the fight against climate change, there are a couple of problems with the strategy: first, human tree planting can never keep up with human deforestation; and second, seedlings take years, even decades, before they become robust carbon sinks. The much more obvious and proactive solution is not to cut down mature trees in the first place. That said, such ambitious projects as the Billion Tree Tsunami are encouraging. Student answers to the second question will vary, but a WPA-type effort—which might seem more achievable in the wake of the pandemic—has been floated for some time as a way both to rebuild America’s crumbling infrastructure and combat climate change.
- Answers will vary by student. Goal 13 especially rates to SDGs 8, 9, 11, 14, 15.
- Answers will vary—for more on creating collections, click here. For more on Success Factors, click here.