Most of the progressive policies and significant challenges with regard to climate change are found in cities. A recent study by adelphi looked at ways of integrating urban actors in international climate governance to find more effective climate solutions. Kaj Fischer sums up the results.
"We very much did engage on big issues throughout our conversations [...]. Whether it's how we ensure that there is no contradiction between a strong economy and a protected environment; understand how we need to work together as individual countries and indeed as a planet to address the challenges of climate change."
Many measures aimed at reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have other positive effects on other aspects of the economy. Some of these co-benefits can be directly translated into financial terms (e.g. savings from reduced fuel use) but others, like improved health or preserved biodiversity, need to be estimated. Better understanding and assessment of the co-benefits of climate change mitigation could thus greatly help countries around the world adopt bolder mitigation measures.
In dealing with climate change we are facing the challenge of a transformation to sustainability (WBGU 2011). What needs to be done? To combat climate change, we need to make significant greenhouse gas savings. But is this the only goal we should set ourselves? No, the transformation goes deeper than this: It confronts us with the question of how we want to live -- now and in the future.
"Now we’ve got to accelerate the transition away from old, dirtier energy sources. Rather than subsidize the past, we should invest in the future -- especially in communities that rely on fossil fuels. We do them no favor when we don't show them where the trends are going. That’s why I’m going to push to change the way we manage our oil and coal resources, so that they better reflect the costs they impose on taxpayers and our planet."- President of the United States, Barack Obama, in his State of the Union Address as delivered on 13 January 2016
The most important and anticipated climate change conference in years is finally underway. In some ways, as Bill McKibben and Andrew Revkin have pointed out, its success is relatively assured thanks to the number of major commitments countries have already made. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to see here.
The updated version of the Climate Diplomacy booklet is now available online, published by adelphi. It highlights the approach and efforts of the German Federal Foreign Office in the field of climate policy.