CD-LINKS at the UNFCCC Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA)

On 10 May the CD-LINKS project was presented at a poster session of the 9th annual meeting of the SBSTA Research Dialogue. The purpose of the research dialogue is to collaborate with invited research programmes and organisations to inform the SBSTA of developments in research activities relevant to the needs of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

A side event co-hosted by IIASA and IDDRI ‘Ratcheting up nationally determined contributions (NDCs): Consistent national roadmaps towards the global objective of 1.5 and 2°C’ was also held at the SBSTA on 13 May. The side event was chaired by Keywan Riahi and Valentina Bosetti and highlighted the collaboration of the 19 institutes from Europe, Asia and the Americas brought together by the CD-LINKS project.


During the side event, the viable strategies for ratcheting up the NDCs and their implications for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were presented. The SDG assessments were presented by Volker Krey, who stated during the event that climate and development agendas are inextricably linked: the transformation towards a low carbon world is expected to have notable impacts on other development goals. Poverty reduction and reducing inequalities (SDGs 1, 10, 5), food security (SDG 2), health issues (SDG 3), water availability (SDG6), energy poverty (SDG 7), economic growth, innovation and employment (SDG 8, 9) can be linked, in either reinforcing or counteracting ways, to climate action (SDG 13).

The global transformation pathways based on the climate policy objectives under the Paris Agreement and the NDCs was presented by Detlef Van Vuuren. A policy perspective on the NDCs and the national transformation pathways: case of China was presented by Niklas Höhne, Jiang Kejun and Chen Wenying. The national transformation pathways: case of India and Brazil was presented by Ritu Mathur and Roberto Schaeffer.

Based on an analysis of the NDCs and pathways to achieve the 1.5 and 2°C targets, the implications for achieving the SDGs, and how a more stringent climate action could foster a transformation with positive feedbacks was analysed. This analysis aims at informing the 2018 facilitative dialogue under the Paris Agreement and indicates that:

  • Climate change mitigation generates significant synergies with air quality improvements, thus reducing negative health impacts of air pollution (SDG 3).
  • Inclusive development and climate policies are key to reduce risk of hunger for simultaneous achievement of SDG 2 (Zero Hunger) and SDG 13 (Climate Action).
  • Options are available to pursue stringent climate mitigation without increasing water demand (SDG 6), e.g. through water-efficient cooling technologies or structural change in power generation, or by reducing energy demand.
  • Inclusive policies which combine target emission reductions while also supporting low income households, allow stringent climate protection without deteriorating access to clean energy services (SDG 7).

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A discussion was held as part of the side event, which included an observation that a commitment regarding the SDGs is missing, as there is only broad monitoring of the NDCs currently in place. It was proposed that NDCs for SDGs are needed to help make the SDGs tangible and to also facilitate a connection between the SDGs and climate action. For example, the decision to build a cement factory in Africa would be unacceptable purely from a climate perspective, but would be acceptable from a development perspective.