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How does climate change affect the Sustainable Development Goals?

Climate change and clean energy

According to the UN, fossil fuels are still by far the largest contributor to global climate change, "accounting for over 75% of global greenhouse gas emissions and nearly 90% of all carbon dioxide emissions."

To avoid the worst impacts of climate change, emissions need to be reduced by almost half by 2030 and reach net-zero by 2050.

Climate change and hunger

Climate change is having major impacts on agriculture. Across sub-Saharan Africa, 20-60% losses in livestock were recorded during serious drought events in the past several decades.

According to the World Bank, "rising food commodity prices in 2021 were a major factor in pushing 30 million additional people in LICs toward food insecurity."

CDA's research at the Ethiopia-Kenya border looks at how communities are coping with increasingly unpredictable weather patterns, regional migration, and the strain of resource degradation on inter-group dynamics.

Climate change and peace

According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, "of the 25 countries most vulnerable to climate change, 14 are places with active violent conflict."

CDA's research has demonstrated that climate change is a "threat-multiplier" in violent conflict, exacerbating existing conflict drivers by putting pressures on livelihoods and economies, amplifying resource competition, spurring migration, and contributing to habitat loss.

Climate change and responsible consumption

According to the UN, "if the global population reaches 9.8 billion by 2050, the equivalent of almost three planets will be required to provide the natural resources needed to sustain current lifestyles."

Plastic production also aggravates climate change. According to the World Bank, "the plastic industry... is expected to reach 20% [of global oil consumption] by 2050."

Climate change and inequality

"While climate change is a global phenomenon, its negative impacts are more severely felt by poor people and poor countries" (OECD).

Climate change affects the most vulnerable communities around the world and exacerbates the gap between higher and lower income countries.

In Fiji, CDA's research found that the location and growth of informal settlements render their inhabitants more vulnerable to climate impacts when assessed against the rest of the urban population.

Climate change and gender

According to UN Women, "women farmers account for 45-80% of all food production," yet environmental changes make women's work in agriculture more challenging.

Natural disasters and financial burdens force girls to quit school to assist their families. Climate change also increases the vulnerability of women and girls to gender-based violence in contexts of conflict.

CDA's research in Ghana found that the shortage of land and water resources significantly impacts the livelihoods, productivity, learning, and health of women and girls, exacerbating existing gender-based discrimination and violence.

Climate change and infrastructure

Climate change intensifies the vulnerability of infrastructure and is disrupting "critical systems, increasing operating costs, exacerbating the infrastructure funding gap, and creating substantial spillover effects on societies and economies."

According to UNEP, "infrastructure is responsible for 79% of all greenhouse gas emissions and 88% of all adaptation costs."

CDA's research in Ghana found that infrastructure development, dams in particular, used to mitigate the effects of droughts and boost hydropower has become enmeshed in localized conflicts.

Climate change and poverty

The IMF indicates that "unmanaged climate change threatens to... [damage] poverty eradication efforts worldwide... disproportionately affecting the poorest regions and people."

According to a World Bank report, it is estimated that "an additional 68 to 135 million people could be pushed into poverty by 2030 because of climate change."

CDA's work in Fiji and Ghana highlights the relationship between increased migration due to climate-related livelihood impacts and the growth of urban informal settlements, where essential services are often inaccessible.

Climate change and health

Climate change threatens all life on earth, and extreme weather events continue to deteriorate global public health. The WHO estimates that between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause approximately 250,000 additional deaths per year, due to undernutrition, malaria, diarrhea, and heat stress alone.

Evidence from CDA’s Environment-Fragilty-Peace Nexus project demonstrates the impacts of climate change on public health. Among the findings, the project team found that smoke produced by frequent and extreme wildfires in Northern California in 2020 caused between 1,200 and 3,000 "excess" deaths among people aged 65 or older.

In Suva, Fiji, excessive rain and increasing king tides led to flooding and wastewater overflows in coastal informal settlements resulting in water-borne diseases, skin diseases, and respiratory issues.

In Accra and other coastal cities in Ghana, increased migration has resulted in the growth of urban informal settlements, now home to 40% of the urban population. Many of these settlements are built-in locations vulnerable to water-borne diseases caused by flooding and sea level rise. Additionally, severe and prolonged droughts in the north impact rural communities’ health and livelihoods by diminishing agriculture and food and livestock production, resulting in increased child malnutrition.

Climate change and education

According to UNESCO, "climate-displaced people face similar barriers to education as do refugees. Yet, unlike refugees, they have no specific right under international law to residency and the explicit right to education."

Climate change destroys schools and other infrastructure and affects students, teachers, and parents in often devastating ways.

Climate change and life on land

Climate change causes more frequent and extreme weather events, resulting in "habitat degradation, changes in water cycles, and heat stress" that impact all life on Earth (WWF).

According to the International Fund for Animal Welfare, "projections suggest that if global temperatures increase by 2°C by 2100, about 18% of all species on land will face a high risk of going extinct."

CDA's research in northern California, USA demonstrates how settler colonial policies like fire suppression, private property regimes, and the over-exploitation of natural resources has increased wildfire risk and environmental degradation and significantly harmed Indigenous peoples' sovereignty, culture, and identity.

Climate change and sustainable cities

According to the World Bank, the world's urban population will continue to increase by another 4 billion people over the next 20 years.

This past decade, 2 billion people in urban areas were affected by a natural disaster.

Of the world's urban population, 1 billion live in urban informal settlements (like in Suva, Fiji, and Accra, Ghana) and 1.5 billion live in conflict-affected countries.

Climate change and partnerships

The Environment-Fragility-Peace nexus presents a radically new operational environment for humanitarian, development, and peacebuilding interventions. It poses a new set of complex challenges in which social, political, economic, and environmental problems must be addressed systemically and simultaneously across various scales, incorporating local, national, regional, and global programs.

CDA is developing practitioner-centered, evidence-based tools and assessment frameworks through a rigorous and long-tested collaborative learning approach that has been adapted to purpose.

Climate change and water

Water resources are becoming more scarce, unpredictable, and polluted due to climate change. Conflict over scarce water resources is intensifying.

Flooding and rising sea levels contaminate freshwater and damage water and sanitation infrastructure.

Droughts lead to the destruction of vegetation, soil erosion, and increasing wildfires.

CDA's research in northern California, USA found that frequent and severe droughts are dramatically impacting water resources and salmon populations. Climate change also affects the frequency and intensity of rainfall, which frequently causes rivers and streams to overflow.

Climate change and decent work and economic growth

According to the International Labour Organization, climate change has already lowered labor productivity. Between 2000 and 2015, 23 million working-life years were lost annually due to climate change.

"Among the members of the G20, China, Brazil, and India were the most affected countries, with 8.7, 3.2 and 1.5 working-life years lost per person per year, respectively."

“Projected temperature increases will make heat stress more common, reducing the total number of work hours in the G20 countries by 1.9% by 2030, with a greater effect on agricultural workers and on workers in emerging countries."

“The largest impact of climate change is that it could wipe off up to 18% of GDP of the worldwide economy by 2050 if global temperatures rise by 3.2°C”, the Swiss Re Institute warns. “In a severe scenario of a 3.2°C temperature increase, China stands to lose almost one-quarter of its GDP (24%) by mid-century. The US, Canada, and the UK would all see around a 10% loss."

Climate change and life below water

According to the UN, "as the planet's greatest carbon sink, the oceans absorb excess heat and energy released from rising greenhouse gas emissions," resulting in rising sea levels and increasing marine heatwaves and ocean acidification - altogether causing a "lasting impact on... the lives and livelihoods of coastal communities and beyond."

UNESCO estimates that "more than half of the world's marine species may stand on the brink of extinction by 2100."

CDA's research in northern California, USA found that pollution and more frequent and severe droughts in the 'Uba River watershed have significantly decreased the Chinook salmon population, a culturally significant food source for Native communities.