Goal 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

Climate change presents the single biggest threat to development, and its widespread, unprecedented effects disproportionately burden the poorest and the most vulnerable. Goal 13 calls for urgent action not only to combat climate change and its impacts, but also to build resilience in responding to climate-related hazards and natural disasters.

The Paris Agreement sets the stage for ambitious climate action by all for sustainable development

Carbon emissions have been steadily rising over the past decades, leading to increases in global temperatures. The period from 2011 to 2015 was the hottest on record, with sea ice reaching its lowest level in history and coral bleaching – resulting from increased sea surface temperatures – threatening the world’s coral reefs. The landmark Paris Agreement, signed in April 2016 by 175 Member States, attempts to mitigate climate change and accelerate and intensify actions and investments needed for a sustainable, low-carbon future. Central to the agreement is the need to strengthen the global response to keep global temperatures from rising no more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue further efforts to limit the rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The Paris Agreement requires parties to identify their “intended nationally determined contributions” (INDCs). Progress on the Paris Agreement will be tracked every five years through a global stocktaking exercise.

Comparison of global greenhouse gas emission levels in 2025 and 2030 resulting from the implementation of the intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs and under other scenarios (GtCO2 eq/yr)
Note: For a more detailed chart, please see figure 2 of the updated synthesis report of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change on the aggregate effect of the intended nationally determined contributions, 2 May 2016 (http://unfccc.int/focus/indc_portal/items/9240.php).

Over 70 per cent of Parties to the UN Framework Convention of Climate Change included an adaptation component in their plans for climate action

As of 4 April 2016, 189 of the 197 Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change had submitted 161 INDCs (the European Commission submitted one joint INDC). Of these, 137 included an adaptation component. Some stressed that adaptation was their main priority, since they see the potential impacts of climate change as strongly linked to national development, sustainability and security. Parties referred to virtually every sector and area of the economy in the adaptation component of their INDCs. The top three priority areas were water, agriculture and health, which coincide with the top climate hazards that Parties identified – floods, drought and higher temperatures. Many parties also referred to vector- or water-borne diseases as a hazard that will require adaptation.

Number of Parties that referred to an area or sector as a priority in adaptation actions communicated in the adaptation component of the INDCs

As natural disasters have increased in frequency and intensity, more people have been affected by them

Disasters, many of which are exacerbated by climate change and are increasing in frequency and intensity, impede progress towards sustainable development. While the numbers of people affected varies greatly from year to year, an average of 83,000 people died and 211 million were affected annually as a result of natural disasters occurring from 2000 to 2013.

Total number of deaths and affected persons resulting from natural disasters worldwide, 2000−2013 (thousands)

Eighty-three countries around the world have provisions in place to manage disaster risk

With the rise in natural disasters, countries have begun implementing national and local disaster risk reduction strategies. In 2015, 95 countries voluntarily agreed to a self-assessment on the inclusion of legislative and/or regulatory provisions for managing disaster risk. Among them, 83 countries had such provisions in place. With the aim of reducing underlying disaster risk factors, countries have begun considering and implementing a variety of different mechanisms, including climate change adaptation projects and programmes, environmental impact assessments, integrated planning, payments for ecosystem services and legislation for the protection of environmentally sensitive areas.

Number of countries with legislative and/or regulatory provisions for managing disaster risk, 2015