This report aims to show how the transition to a low-carbon society through the decarbonization of energy systems can bring social and economic benefits and foster countries’ economic competitiveness. It notably evaluates the inter-linkages between decarbonization and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and emphasizes the need for carbon pricing and climate finance. Additionally, it advocates for ambitious industrial policies to accompany energy-intensive companies in the low-carbon transition and takes example in several successful cases of decarbonization around the world.
This policy report was developed based on submissions from LCS-RNet research members, presented during the 9th Conference of the International Research Network For Low-Carbon Societies (LCS-RNet), which took place on 12 and 13 September 2017 at Warwick University, United Kingdom (detailed information available in the Appendix).
The 2030 Agenda, with its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), 169 targets, and 232 indicators, agreed by all countries, are intended to “transform the world”. This report examines the ability of the SDGs to actually trigger this transformation and to suggest some key actions to make the SDGs more transformative. It examines the roles of key actors—governments, cities, and the private sector—and two key means of implementation—finance and technology. The extent to which the SDGs will be truly transformational, however, remains an open question, which depends on how they are implemented.
The report concludes that solutions to implement the SDGs, as well as key means of implementation including finance and technology, are readily available, and have been discussed many times in the past. The issues addressed by the SDGs are not new. There is a danger, however, the key actors will focus on collecting and reporting on the indicators and/or cherry picking individual SDGs which already conform to business as usual, rather than using them as an opportunity to achieve transformational change and treating the SDGs as indivisible and comprehensively linked. As the attention shifts from the overall vision of the SDGs to the details of the targets and indicators, there is some risk that an intensive focus on data, monitoring and measurement may shift attention away from the big picture and concrete and ambitious transformative actions. It is important to ensure that implementing the SDGs is not just about record keeping or only chasing small wins; it is essential to have broad strategies that are ambitious enough to achieve multiple goals. A key message is that it is not necessary to wait to take action until all of the indicators have been developed and all the data has been collected.