Climate change is an inevitable and urgent global challenge with long-term implications for the sustainable development of all countries. The 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
Fourth Assessment Report warns of changing weather patterns and rising sea levels due to accelerating GHG emissions from human activities. For many, a warming climactic system is expected to impact the availability of basic necessities like freshwater, food security, and energy, while efforts to redress climate change, both through adaptation and mitigation, will similarly inform and shape the global development agenda.
The links between climate change and sustainable development are strong. While climate change will know no boundaries, poor and developing countries, particularly the LDCs, will be among those most adversely affected and least able to cope with the anticipated shocks to their social, economic and natural systems. The IPCC projects that by 2080, millions of people will be displaced due to sea-level rise, with densely-populated and low-lying countries, like many SIDS, facing the greatest threat from storm surges and rising seas.
Internationally Agreed Development Goals & Climate Change
Internationally agreed frameworks and goals have set an agenda for integrating climate change and sustainable development. Agenda 21, which addresses climate change under its Chapter 9 (Protection of the atmosphere), recognizes,
" that activities that may be undertaken in pursuit of the objectives defined therein should be coordinated with social and economic development in an integrated manner, with a view to avoiding adverse impacts on the latter, taking into full account the legitimate priority needs of developing countries for the achievement of sustained economic growth and the eradication of poverty."
Both Agenda 21 and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (JPOI) assert that the United Nations Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
is the key instrument for addressing climate change. The Kyoto Protocol, which entered into force on 16 February 2005, sets binding emission reductions targets for industrialized countries for the first commitment period 2008-2012.