Development paths consistent with zero poverty and 1.5°C

The world faces the twin challenges of development and climate change. 2015 saw the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement (PA) on climate change.1 An IPCC special report on keeping temperature below 1.5 °C is being scoped, relating to the global temperature goal in the PA;1 at the same time, the imperative is to eliminate “eliminate poverty, in all its forms, everywhere”. 2 And those are not all the challenges we face – at global, national and local level.

Reducing poverty, inequality and GHG emissions – and thereby limiting impacts, are certainly among the foremost challenges. The question of 1.5 degree is not, on its own, the most important. Looking ahead from 2016, we also face an increasingly fragmenting world, for example post-Brexit and in the Sudan. Migration is increasing due to climate and political crises. The global economy has not recovered from the financial crsis, and individual countries are struggling (not least South Africa). Levels of unemployment remain high – in SA, but also in Southern Europe and elsewhere. While climate NDCs have made a signficant step forward in mainstreamign climate change into national development planning, the sum of NDCs has us on a path to 2.6 -3.1 °C.3   No single special report cannot address all of these challenges – but SR1p5dev needs to relate to the broader challenges – if it wants to make a real difference.

The suggestion is therefore that SR1p5dev looks beyond the usual climate change literature. Some modest suggestions are offered below, for exchange and discussion with the participants of the socping meeting and the broader community (many more are interested than can attend!)

Sustainable development and climate change

The SR1p5dev would do well by framing the challenges, risks and opportunities as ‘SD and CC’. This would of course be based on assessment of literatures, on reducing poverty and inequality, GHG emissions, and the impacts of climate change. The framign should refer to the two major agreements of 2015, the SDGs and Paris Agreement. Framing chapter(s) should also assess of implementation vs goals; the literature has assessed scenarios assuming NDCs fully implemented vs 2 °C (and 1.5 °C ?), but should also look at scenarios with increased action.

Impacts of global warming of 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels

It would make sense to understand the problems associated with 1.5 °C – the impacts of climate change. There might be more than one chapter here, certainly including one on biophysical impacts. Key developmental concerns – inclduing at local level – are the socio-economic impacts of 1.5°C and threats to sustainable development, and this literature deserves a dedicated assessment. The section should indicate the costs of inaction and investments required, providing as much information as possible.

Pathways consistent with 1.5 °C

The case we make is that a ‘mitigaiton’ section should begin with national development pathways. The information communicated in (I)NDCs can be assessed (including in good work done by the UNFCCC Secretariat on ‘aggregate effects’,4 including an update5). There is a signficant literature to assess since AR5, including studies of deep decarbonisation pathways based on national modeling.6 The assessment should of course include other modeling studies, and political, social and economic analyses, drawing on literature with more qualitative methods but equally important information to inform the realisatin of development pathways. From the assessment of bottom-up studies, a richly textured global composite can be assessed, providing global greenhouse gas emission pathways that are well grounded in analysis closer to national development planning. The global GHG emission pathways should also assess scenarios modeled by global IAMs; staring with a review of AR5 chapter 6, and updating with recent studies, in particular those that include 1.5 °C. This section would also include an assessment of literature on response measures.

Action at local level

Action takes place at the local level. So in addition to the preivous (focused on national and global scale), there should be a prominent section / chapter assessing literature on both adaptation and mitigation, and action by local authorities, social movements, businesses and other ‘non-state actors’ (who strangely are identified negatively, whereas they are the postiive actors).

Opportunities and Risks

SR1p5dev should assess all of the above, perhaps best framed in terms of risk management. In other words, what are the major opportunities and risks of 1.5 °C. This would include costs and benefits of action (but not be limited to cost-benefit analyses). It should provide information on which pathways consistent with 1.5 °C and zero poverty are ‘attainable’? The risks and opportunities could be disaggregated by sector, by technology and possibly other ways. Assessment should inlcude the costs of delaying action, and the costs and benefits of increased action

Conclusion: informing action on development and climate change

SR1p5dev should conclude with clear, policy-relevant information. Such information must inform both development and climate change, as argued at the outset. The report might identify attainable development pathways consistent with 1.5 °C and eliminating poverty.



  1. UNFCCC (2015) Paris Agreement. Annex to decision 1/CP.21, document FCCC/CP/2015/10/Add.1. United Nations, Paris, France.
  2. UN (2015) Sustainable Development Goals. Resolution adopted by the General Assembly on 25 September 2015: Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. A/RES/70/1. United Nations, New York.
  3. J. Rogelj et al. (2016). Paris Agreement climate proposals need boost to keep warming well below 2°C Nature 534, 631-639.
  4. UNFCCC (2015) Synthesis report on the aggregate effect of the intended nationally determined contributions. Note by the Secretariat, document FCCC/CP/2015/7. UNFCCC, Bonn.
  5. UNFCCC (2016) Aggregate effect of the intended nationally determined contributions: an update. Synthesis report by the secretariat. Document FCCC/CP/2016/2. UNFCCC, Bonn.
  6. C. Bataille et al. (2016 online). The need for national deep decarbonization pathways for effective climate policy. Climate Policy; C. Bataille, H. Waisman, M. Colombier, L. Segafredo, J. Williams (2016 online). The Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project (DDPP): insights and emerging issues. . Climate Policy; DDPP (2015) Pathways to deep decarbonsiation: 2015 report. Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI), Paris and New York; K. Altieri et al. (2015). Pathways to deep decarbonisation in South Africa. Part of DDPP 2015 final report of the Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project Energy Research Centre, with Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI), 2015; DDPP (2014) Pathways to deep decarbonsiation: 2014 interim report. Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI), Paris and New York.

1 thought on “Development paths consistent with zero poverty and 1.5°C

  1. Dear Team

    Thanks for this wonderful initiative. I will provide some general comments here.

    1. There are other global and regional frameworks that relate to the SDGs and PA namely: the UNESCO Global Action Programme (November 2014) following the conclusion of the United Nations Decade for Education for Sustainable Development (UNESCO, 2004) enshrining the Education 2030 vision, the reworked and new framework on disaster risk reduction, popularly known as the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction for 2015-2030 finalised in March 2015, Africa Agenda 2063, and the means of implementation or financing for development outcomes document known as the Addis Ababa Action Accord concluded in July 2015. Related to matters of regional and global security, Africa’s Agenda 2063 has an aspiration to ‘Silence Guns by 2020″ and by the look of things this is going to be a huge call. We have guns erupting now in DRC, Mozambique, South Sudan and guns that have been going on in Lybia and Burundi. We also have countries that are on knife urges like Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mali etc. This is challenging.
    2. From the central SDGs theme, how do we make sure that “we do not leave anybody behind”. Judging by the ratification of the NDCs so far (at least as of June 2016), the 19 countries that have done so emit far less than one percent of total global emissions. None of the big emitters have ratified their NDCs as yet and take responsibility. Therefore, how can we fast track ratification from these big emitters remains an issue in the SR15 activities.
    3. What about linking the SR15 to the twin nexus: (1) Poverty, Inequity and Unemployment and (2) Water, Food Security and Energy? I guess these are matters that we need to consider too.
    4. Regarding Action at local level, we need to review work by the C40 initiative.
    5. The risk for developing and vulnerable countries remains high and without additional funding and the increasing trends of extreme weather events, more disasters are expected.


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