To combat climate change is to fight poverty
2015 was an important year from the standpoint of international agreements. In addition to COP21 in Paris, the UN General Assembly approved the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in September. The SDGs are a list of seventeen objectives that aim to fight poverty, inequality and injustice and to address climate change, with goals to be achieved by 2030.
For the first time, a list of priorities for policies to combat poverty in UN member countries included access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy supplies (Objective No. 7). It is hard to think of development without access to electricity, yet 1.1 billion people lack this service at present.
The fight against climate change must promote a change in our energy model that must be closely linked to providing sustainable technologies for all. It is hard to imagine defining CO2 reduction targets for people who have nothing, but we all have a responsibility to find the best solution. It would appear to lie essentially in renewable energy; the financial facilities defined in the context of combating climate change, such as the Green Climate Fund and funding by multilateral agencies, and the entire international community should focus primarily on renewables.
However, in addition to access to energy, which is critical to the climate change debate, SDG no. 6 refers to access to clean water and sanitation. The lack of water may be one of the most dramatic consequences of the severe droughts that may result from global warming. The need to provide sustainable solutions for clean water supply is one of the most important challenges facing humanity.
Because, finally, our technological and management response to the issue of water and energy supply is the just visible side of the issue of food and the fight against hunger, the provision of healthcare, access to education, gender equality, sustainable cities and environmental quality, all defined as Sustainable Development Goals alongside climate change.
In the end, combating climate change also means combating poverty and seeking solutions to enable every corner of the Earth to develop without jeopardising ecosystem balance.
The goal we pursued in setting out these 10 facts about climate change was basically to summarise and set in order, as objectively as possible, factors that are currently the subject of scientific, cultural and social debate. Surprisingly, there are still people who question the existence of climate change, its anthropogenic origin, and the need to act, although they are increasingly in the minority.
In any case, climate change will push us to the realisation that our current model of economic development and natural resource consumption and our individual consumption patterns are not sustainable over time and that we must define a new order that is more attuned to what nature can offer humanity.
We must not succumb to blind optimism. Climate change is not just a scientific warning or an ecologist's rallying cry. Today, international institutions, governments and businesses in all sectors, including finance, as well as civil society are raising their voices to debate the solutions. Increase energy efficiency in industry, buildings and transport. We must believe that the COP21 has marked a defining moment that lets us see more clearly this shared will to take care of the patrimony of all, the Earth.
Guest post written by Carmen Becerril Martínez, External Director from ACCIONA, and Magdalena García Mora, Manager of Analysis of Energy policies and Climate Change from ACCIONA.