If you're fed up with hearing about climate change this is a chance to quickly update yourself on how much of it is in the UN Millennium Development Goals - and perhaps just get it over with. Below is a brief summary of how the UN report Keeping the Promise - A forward-looking review to promote an agreed action agenda to achieve the MDGs by 2015 ADVANCE UNEDITED VERSION addresses that subtopic.
In fact, climate change permeates the MDG report – a quick count yielded 24 occurrences. Here are some choice quotes of mine so you can put it in the back of your mind for a while – or use as a starting point for going climate crazy again, if you like.
Progress so far: Limited progress on environmental sustainability
The EU recently had to admit the promise to halt extinctions by today had failed. Climate change is mentioned as one of the explanations:
“Nearly 17,000 plant and animal species are known to be threatened with extinction. Major threats and drivers of biodiversity loss, such as including over-consumption, habitat loss, invasive species, pollution and climate change, are not yet being effectively tackled”
Let us just say there is limited progress on climate change specifically too.
Also, don't miss the general chapter Promoting Sustainable Development (MDG 7) pages 21-23.
Emerging issues and challenges: Climate change
On top of having already caused MDG-related problems, climate change is only expected to grow in severity.
“Addressing the climate change challenge provides opportunities for broader improvements in economies, governance, institutions and inter-generational relations and responsibilities. Achieving the MDGs should also contribute to the capacities needed to tackle climate change. […] Combating global warming cannot be achieved without eventual emissions reductions by both developed and developing countries. Technological options for a shift towards such pathways exist. Such a switch would entail unprecedented and costly socio-economic adjustments in developing countries. For this to happen, the shift will require much greater international support and solidarity. […] Climate-resistant development is imperative, and investments to achieve it will be the main way to overcome the perception of a trade off between developing and addressing climate change.”
I'm sorry, but as a TH!NK2 participant, climate change awareness activist and systems approach type guy the above quote almost brings a tear to my eye. Don't miss this chapter, it's on pages 9-10.
Lessons learnt: Adequate, consistent and predictable financial support
“There is an urgent need to broaden and strengthen partnerships to ensure supportive international frameworks for trade, taxation, technology and climate change mitigation and adaptation to sustain long-term human development; and sufficient, predictable and well-coordinated financing for development, including budget, official development assistance (ODA), philanthropy, debt relief, and new financing sources, instruments, arrangements and institutions.”
Probably very true. And right now our governments seems to be just moving money from one account to another when making new pledges.
So, ten years after the promises we have achieved too little, the problems are growing and we do not seem to be learning the lessons. Great, but remember...
“The very fact that the challenges of poverty, food, energy, global recession and climate change are all inter-related has presented the global community with a unique opportunity to tackle them together. ”
Sounds like wishful thinking. But solving one issue is unlikely to really change anything.
Expanding and strengthening international partnerships (MDG 8): Access to new technologies
The rich are in many different ways keeping technological fixes to themselves. This is a problem in relation to many of the goals as well as climate change.
“Addressing the challenges of climate change has necessitated further access to new technologies. For both climate change mitigation and adaptation, massive investments are needed in research, development and deployment of technologies.”
You might also be interested in the TH!NK2 articles Food security: climate change and sustainable development (TH!NK2½ part I) and perhaps even the creatively titled Sieg heil, Homo sapiens: Eradicating lesser species with biodiversity loss and climate change (TH!NK2½ part "something too") which takes the opposite approach of the present article: The MDGs in the COP. For another thematic summary of the UN report see The Dalai Lama and the UN at my Ecowar blog – this one quoting the key chapters on the subtopic of conflict.
If you were hoping to keep climate change entirely out of the MDG campaign – I'm sorry, but that is not really an option. But luckily for you, the above article hopefully releases some of the steam, allowing us to focus a bit on all the other important aspects.