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The Co-benefits of Climate Action Across the UN SDGs

April 2019 by Emma Richards

The UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) make up the global road-map to a safe and equitable society. Launched the 1st of January 2016, the goals follow-on from the Millennium Development Goals and cover a broader range of issues across – the environment, economy, and society – the three pillars of sustainability.

The Carbon Literacy Project most obviously aligns with SDG 13 – Climate Action. Whilst carbon and greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction through culture change is at the core of the work we do, it’s worth taking a moment to think about the wide-reaching benefits acting on climate change can have across all 17 SDGs, that we, our trainers and CL graduates work to implement through Carbon Literacy.

No Poverty

Building better-insulated homes help to reduce fuel poverty by lowering bills. This leaves people healthier and results in them having more money for other necessities such as food, water, accommodation and education.

Zero Hunger

Promoting plant-based diets leads to a reduction in food crops used for animal feed, freeing-up enough land and food to feed all 7.5 billion on the planet – also making direct GHG emission savings from animal agriculture.

Good Health and Well-Being

Using public transport and active travel (cycling and walking) directly reduces air pollution, reducing hospital admissions for respiratory issues. Active travel also makes individuals healthier and happier, through more exercise and safer streets.

Quality Education

Education on climate change should provide learners with knowledge and skills, whilst empowering them to take action. Carbon Literacy is developed to the highest standard of climate communication and provides a recognisable qualification.

Gender Equality

Those worst affected by climate change tend to be the most vulnerable in society – the old, young, ill, poor and women. Acting on climate reduces the frequency, duration and severity of climate change’s effects, reducing these inequalities.

Clean Water and Sanitation

Acting on climate change reduces the likelihood of extreme weather events, such as flooding and hurricanes, which increase the risk of water-borne diseases caused by poor sanitation in their wake.

Affordable and Clean Energy

Switching to a renewable energy tariff is one of the biggest things individuals and organisations can do to reduce their carbon footprint. Increased demand drives-up production, making it a more affordable option for everyone.

Decent Work and Economic Growth

Economic growth is proven to continue with emission reductions. In fact, many new jobs have been created around retrofit and renewables, proving we can continue to develop and grow whilst acting on climate.

Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

Action on climate change is driving new industries, with innovations such as renewables, electric vehicles, anaerobic digestion, hydrogen fuels, and sub-aqua internet servers requiring the development of our infrastructure and systems.

Reduced Inequalities

Those of us in countries which have historically been the big emitters need to bring our emissions down to a more equitable level quickly. This will enable developing countries to continue to grow whilst reducing global GHG emissions.

Sustainable Cities and Communities

Cities and communities, capturing all audiences and sectors, are most effective at bringing about a low carbon culture when working collaboratively on issues to the increased buy-in, benefit and sustainability of actions implemented.

Responsible Consumption and Production

Acting on climate change means consuming less, more responsibly. Know what goes into the products you buy (palm oil = deforestation, nylon = oil extraction) and use your purchasing power to shift the market to more ethical goods.

Climate Action

Carbon Literacy directly asks individuals to pledge one group action and one individual action they can take, meaning the learning isn’t just theoretical – it’s relevant to each learner, action-based, and directly implementable.

Life Below Water

Promoting plant-based diets leads to a reduction in GHG emissions from fishing vessels, but also prevents species collapse, and reduces the chance of nets being left in the ocean as plastic pollution, trapping and killing animals.

Life on Land

Using natural fertilisers, or promoting organic and locally grown food, reduces emissions whilst increasing biodiversity of insect and animal species. The planting of trees also helps to restore deforested habitats whilst sequestering carbon.

Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Climate change makes droughts more likely and reduces water security. Acting on climate reduces the likelihood of water resource wars in our near future as our planet warms and water resources become scarce.

Partnerships for the goals

Working with others we can do a lot more than we can on our own. Collaboration and knowledge sharing is a key part of what The Carbon Literacy Project does – developing consortia and networks – increasing the dissemination of best practice for a low carbon culture.

Though Climate Action won’t solve all our problems, given the many co-benefits, it certainly is a good place to start.

To find out more about how Carbon Literacy can work for your organisation, and how it can help you work towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals, get in touch.

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