Goal 13: Climate Action

What is this goal trying to achieve?

The thirteenth goal aims to combat the causes and impacts of climate change. Targets within this goal aim to instigate action and change through education, innovation and the promotion of adherence to climate commitments on an international level. This goal also aims to demonstrate the economic opportunities, such as job creation, that will come as we modernise our infrastructure to be sustainable and environmentally friendly. 

Why care about climate change? Fact Check:

  • Greenhouse gas emissions are more than 50 per cent higher than they were in 1990
  • Since 1880, sea levels have risen about 20cm and are projected to rise another 30-122cm by 2100. 
  • The Paris Agreement is a United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change that aims to keep the average global temperature below 2 degrees centigrade and to pursue efforts to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees . The Paris agreement only accounts for one third of the emission reductions required to keep the global temperatures below 2 degrees. This means that action to reduce climate change still needs to be addressed outside of international and government level policy. 
  • To limit global warming to 1.5 degrees, global carbon emissions must drop by 45% between 2010 and 2030 and reach net zero around 2050. 
  • Aside from benefits that climate action has for the environment itself, efforts to reduce carbon emissions will create approximately 18 million jobs by 2030 within the sustainable energy sector. 

How can the Sustainable Development Goals make a difference to climate change?

Every country is experiencing and will experience the effects of climate change; it is a global issue. As the Sustainable Development Goals are a framework for global change, their success reliant on the actions of policy makers and individuals alike, they can be used as an effective methodology for tackling a global issue. 

Just like progress towards reducing climate change, progress within each Sustainable Development Goal is dependent on many different factors and social practices. This is why all 17 Goals are interdependent because progress or deterioration within each goal affects every one of the others. To use Climate Action as an example, the targets within the eleventh goal, Sustainable Cities and Communities, aim to reduce the environmental impact of our towns and cities.  Progress within the Climate Action goal cannot be achieved without efforts to make our infrastructure sustainable. 

Similarly, progress has to be made within the tenth goal, Reducing Inequalities. Without achieving the target of universal social, economic and political inclusion, all people and all countries will not be equipped to be a part of the global conversation and contribute to efforts to combat climate change. In addition, actions to reduce carbon emissions cannot be made without the fourth goal, Quality Education. Education will provide individuals with an understanding of environmental science and the severity of the climate crisis. 

Most importantly, the progress towards the final goal, Partnership for the Goals, is a vital factor for the success of emission reduction. No one is exempt from the effects of climate change, therefore no one should be exempt from participating in the solution. This is relevant both to individuals in local communities and to policy makers in the international community. Accountability is a significant part of the seventeenth goal. Sustainable and long term change cannot be relied upon and hoped for in the future unless climate commitments  are adhered to. A global problem requires a global solution. 

How has Coronavirus Impacted Climate Action?

  • Lockdown policies have reduced travel and led to a reduction in air pollution. 
  • Water quality has improved due to the reduction in air pollution. This has also been caused by the less frequent boat travel which has allowed sediment in bodies of water to settle. 
  • However, the disruption that has been caused by the pandemic has acted as cover for illegal deforestation. According to NBC news deforestation in the Amazon rainforest has increased by 55 percent in the first four months of 2020 compared to the first four months of 2019. 
  • Littering has been on the rise as disposable face masks and gloves have been discarded in the environment 

What you can do to help? 

  • Use your platform to participate in the conversation about the ‘new normal’ to make sure it has the best interests of our planet in mind.
  • Check to see if your country has signed and ratified the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. If policy has not been implemented to meet the aims of the Convention, start a petition or write to your MP. For more information about international human rights conventions and how they are implemented see How Your Human Rights are Protected. 
  • Spend your free time learning about your environment and climate change. There are so many online resources and webinars you can access at home to learn about climate action. In her article Climate Action During Covid-19, Emma Askew from Earth Minutes has provided so many different resources to help you out. 
  • Raise awareness to environmental issues you are passionate about. The most effective way to make a change is to engage others and share what you have learnt. 
  • Recycle your paper, glass, plastics, metal and old electronics. 
  • Purchase sustainably choosing to buy products that are reusable
  • Buy eco-friendly products
  • Bike, walk or use public transport as much as possible
  • Consume less meat even if you go veggie for one day a week.

For more information and to see where I sourced my facts, take a look at some of these resources: 




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