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Co-benefits and trade-offs of climate change mitigation actions and the Sustainable Development Goals

Published 1 June 2022


Sustainable Production and Consumption JournalIn addition to driving mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions, climate change mitigation actions can deliver non-climate benefits (co-benefits) but can also have adverse side-effects, working counter to other development objectives. Co-impacts assessment seeks to identify these co-benefits and adverse side-effects. Understanding of co-impacts can provide the knowledge base to garner support for mitigation actions, and to plan interventions that realise synergistic opportunities and contribute simultaneously to multiple objectives, increasing the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of climate actions. However, the value of this information is determined by the manner in which it is framed and communicated.

In this paper, the relationships between climate change mitigation action and co-impacts and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are explored and illustrated using a selection of examples from countries’ Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). We suggest that in the context of SDGs, the co-benefits approach could provide a cohesive framing to incentivise stakeholders to work together to garner support for ambitious policy which simultaneously achieves climate change mitigation and non-climate objectives. Similarly, understanding of adverse side-effects can help to ensure that trade-offs with delivery of the SDGs arising from mitigation actions are recognised and minimised. We note that the best way of framing these concepts is context and application specific.

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Brett Cohen - Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch, 7700, South Africa

Annette Cowie -  NSW Department of Primary Industries/University of New England Armidale, Australia

Mustafa Babiker - Saudi Aramco & KFUPM, Dhahran 31311, Saudi Arabia

Adrian Leip - European Commission, Joint Research Centre, 21027 Ispra (VA), Italy

Pete Smith -  Institute of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Aberdeen, 23 St Machar Drive, Aberdeen, AB24 3UU, United Kingdom


Sustainable Production and Consumption 26

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