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Linking Climate and Development Policies - Leveraging International Networks and Knowledge Sharing

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - CD-LINKS (Linking Climate and Development Policies - Leveraging International Networks and Knowledge Sharing)

Reporting period: 2018-09-01 to 2019-09-30

Understanding the connections between climate change policies and sustainable development is critically important for the implementation of the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This is important for policy makers in G20 countries and beyond, encompassing objectives such as energy poverty eradication, increased well-being, air quality improvement, biodiversity and food and water availability. Well-designed climate mitigation policy can lead to significant co-benefits for a range of development priorities; however, if not properly managed, mitigation can also lead to trade-offs. Maximizing synergies and avoiding trade-offs thus requires integrated strategies based on a new generation of technological and socio-economic pathways. Over the past four years, the CD-LINKS project brought together an international team of interdisciplinary researchers with both global and national expertise to apply cutting-edge scientific models to explore the linkages between climate policies and sustainable development.
CD-LINKS aimed to (i) gain an improved understanding of the linkages between climate policies and multiple sustainable development objectives; (ii) broaden the evidence base on policy effectiveness by exploring past and current policy experiences; (iii) develop the next generation of globally consistent, national low-carbon development pathways; and (iv) establish a research network and capacity building platform to leverage knowledge exchange among institutions from the EU and other countries, including Brazil, China, India, Japan, Russia, and the United States.
(i) To improve the scientific understanding of the linkages between climate change and multiple sustainable development objectives
CD-LINKS analysed synergies and trade-offs between multiple policy objectives, including food security, air quality, water and employment. Analysis was done at the national level to better understand how specific conditions influence the degree to which synergies or trade-offs between climate policy and sustainable development objectives emerge. This was complemented by conceptual research on the suitability of integrated assessment models for assessing linkages between different SDGs. Models were improved in the area of energy poverty, air quality, water, food security and economic development, biodiversity and life cycle analysis indicators, which allowed quantification of indicators related to several SDGs. A scenario set examining different climate policies was developed that led to numerous peer-reviewed publications.
(ii) To broaden the evidence base in the area of policy effectiveness by exploring past and current policy experiences
This research concentrated on the comparability across different nations, their policies and technology developments and consisted of four parts: (i) an assessment of pros and cons of the policies to deploy renewables in Brazil and Germany, including possible policy transfers between countries; (ii) cross-country comparisons of the effectiveness of energy access policies and lessons for the replicability of these in other country settings, focusing on the case of electricity access policies in Brazil, India and Morocco; (iii) an exploration of the implications of climate policies on innovation in countries that have enacted such policies, as well as of spill-over effects for other technology-producing and -exporting countries; and (iv) low-carbon technology flows between countries and the prospects for policy transfer, with a particular focus on India.
(iii) To develop globally consistent, national development pathways
A special issue on national low-carbon development pathways was published in Climatic Change. These papers explore the requirements for the deployment and upscaling of new technologies, investment and finance needs, and regional gaps or inconsistencies compared to the aspirations implied by the long-term objectives of 1.5 and 2°C. The national modelling teams completed a set of scenarios that mirror the set-up of the global scenarios, via cumulative CO2 budgets until 2050, which are informed by the global scenarios and have been set in an iterative process between global and national teams. The special issue also includes a critical assessment of whether current policies are on track to achieve the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).
(iv) To establish a research network and capacity building platform in order to leverage knowledge-exchange among institutions from Europe and other key players within the G-20.
Throughout the project, a range of stakeholder and capacity building workshops were held in Austria, Italy, China, Germany, India, Brazil and Belgium. A Summer School on integrated assessment modeling was held in Venice, Italy, and attended by 20 young scholars from a broad range of disciplinary backgrounds who received advanced training. In addition, the CD-LINKS research exchange program enabled 13 young scholars from various institutes to collaborate with other project partners to research topics such as the development of better modelling of water use in India and more accurate forest sector descriptions in Brazil.
The CD-LINKS consortium also organized multiple official UNFCCC side-events, at COP22 in Marrakesh, at COP23 in Bonn, and at COP24 in Katowice as well as two side events at SBSTA. Two events at COP25 in Madrid are also being organized.
Major achievements of CD-LINKS include new insights related to policy designs that adequately account for mitigation trade-offs across sectors, actors, and objectives. CD-LINKS made critical contributions to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C, as well as the United Nations Environment Program's (UNEP) Finance Initiative report.
The project explored the implications of national climate policies on global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, finding that current implemented domestic climate policies are estimated to reduce GHG emissions by 5% by 2030 compared to an emission pathway that assumes no new policies after 2010. This research also found that most countries are not on track to meet their own NDCs and that the global reduction expected from all NDCs is inconsistent with the policy efforts to limit warming to well below 2°C. Current domestic policies explored were collected and shared in an open source climate policy database.
The project expanded understanding of the linkages between climate change goals and SDGs, accounting for both national and local policy priorities and constraints in key G20 countries. Findings indicate that inclusive climate policies are needed to manage potential trade-offs and identified significant co-benefits of mitigation measures. In addition, a coordinated case study examined the interactions between multiple objectives in 17 energy and climate policies globally. Major findings suggest that policy makers aim to achieve multiple objectives with a single policy and do not consider complementary policies to strengthen synergies or alleviate trade-offs; that policy makers rarely implement design features and processes that facilitate necessary policy adaptation; and that comprehensive policy evaluation along multiple goals is rare. To address these shortcomings, a new framework based on three policy design principles—complementarity, transparency and adaptability—was proposed to improve multiple-objective policymaking in the future.
CD-LINKS side-event at COP22 in Marrakech
CD-LINKS summer school in July 2019 in Venice
Panel at CD-LINKS stakeholder and expert workshop in New Delhi