Chapter 4 - Sustainable development and equity

Fleurbaey, M., Kartha, S., Bolwig, S., Chee, Y.L., Chen, Y., Corbera, E., Lecocq, F., Lutz, W. ORCID:, et al. (2014). Chapter 4 - Sustainable development and equity. In: Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change. IPCC Working Group III Contribution to AR5. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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In keeping with the previous IPCC assessments, this chapter considers sustainable development (SD) and equity as matters of policy relevance for climate change decision makers. The chapter examines the ways in which climate change is in fact inextricably linked with SD and equity, and it does so with the aim of drawing policy-relevant conclusions regarding equitable and sustainable responses to climate change.

In one direction, the link is self-evident: an effective climate response is necessary for equitable and sustainable development to occur. The disruptions that climate change would cause in the absence of an effective societal response are sufficiently severe (see Working Group (WG) I and II contributions to the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (AR5)) to severely compromise development, even taking into account future societies' ability to adapt (Shalizi and Lecocq, 2010). Nor is this development likely to be equitable, as an increasingly inhospitable climate will most seriously undermine the future prospects of those nations, communities, and individuals that are in greatest need of development. Without an effective response to climate change, including both timely mitigation and proactive adaptation, development can be neither sustainable nor equitable.

In recent years, the academic community has come increasingly to appreciate the extent to which SD and equity are also needed as frameworks for assessing and prioritizing climate responses: given the strong tradeoffs and synergies between the options for a climate response and SD, the design of an effective climate response must accord with the objectives for development and equity and exploit the synergies. A climate strategy that does not do so runs the risk either of being ineffective for lack of consensus and earnest implementation or of jeopardizing SD just as would unabated climate change. Therefore, a shift toward more equitable and sustainable modes of development may provide the only context in which an effective climate response can be realized.

The scientific community is coming to understand that climate change is but one example of how humankind is pressing up against its planetary limits (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 2005; Rockstrom et al., 2009a). Technical measures can certainly help in the near-term to alleviate climate change. However, the comprehensive and durable strategies society needs are those that recognize that climate change shares its root causes with other dimensions of the global sustainability crisis, and that without addressing these root causes, robust solutions may not be accessible.

This chapter, and many parts of this report, uncovers ways in which a broader agenda of SD and equity may support and enable an effective societal response to the climate challenge, by establishing the basis by which mitigative and adaptive capacity can be built and sustained. In examining this perspective, this chapter focuses on several broad themes.

Item Type: Book Section
Research Programs: World Population (POP)
Bibliographic Reference: In:; Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change. IPCC Working Group III Contribution to AR5; Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK and New York, USA pp.283-350 (2014)
Depositing User: IIASA Import
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2016 08:51
Last Modified: 05 Aug 2023 05:00

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