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Model United Nations

General Assembly Topic 1

Climate Change in Relation to the Sustainable Development Goals 

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), by the end of this century, the global temperature is expected to rise by 4°C due to worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. This threat of a changing climate, caused by the rise of humankind’s unsustainable practices, has become an issue that has been accepted and addressed by member states across the world. In 1992 the United Nations met for the first time in order to address the rising threat of climate change. During this conference they began to set goals and suggest different ideas to address the climate change concern, which was adopted by 195 different parties. They began a worldwide discussion on ideas to address these concerns including alternative energy sources, higher amounts of public transportation, increasing awareness on climate change, creating more sustainable patterns for production, and beginning a major discussion on climate change in the United Nations. In 2007 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) created a report addressing the major concerns of the effects of climate change. Some examples of these effects including extinction of up to 20-30% of species, crop productivity in warm coastal areas expecting to decrease, negative health effects from exposure to ozone or natural disasters, and changing weather patterns such as flooding or drought.

In relation to the sustainable development goals the United Nations once again began to encourage member states to implement strategies to slow climate change. This was done by increasing awareness on the issue along with implementing goals for these member states to reach by the year of 2030. These goals include: adaptive solutions to climate-related hazards and natural disasters, improving national policies and strategies, increase awareness, improving management and planning in the least developed countries, and providing funding ($100 billion by 2020) and improving effectiveness of the Green Climate Fund to fund programs in developing countries. With the financial aid of the Green Climate Fund, programs can be used to inform and aid people in moving toward using more environment friendly and sustainable practices in the future, such as providing renewable energy sources.

Despite these many conferences to address the rising threat of climate change and shared concern from many member states in the past, there has been an underwhelming amount of change worldwide. For example, an analysis was conducted of policies that were implemented to limit carbon emissions in the 32 countries that took part in the Paris Agreement 2015. Through this analysis it was found that only 5 of the 32 different countries analyzed had national policies that set them on track to meet the goals of this agreement. This information can be found at climateactiontracker.org.

Even though there has not been a large amount of worldwide advancement on the front of climate change there are member states and programs that have taken strides towards aiding with this issue. In 2019, the High-Level Political Forum plans to review goal 13, to implement actions to combat climate change, and to analyze the sustainable development goals and the progress that has taken place to address these concerns. To ensure that we see advancement on this front during the 2019 review, it has become apparent that there needs to be more decisive actions, funding and consequences set to further encourage member states to work towards these goals and make them more attainable for all. As a committee you must decide what actions are implemented, how funding is to be received, and what consequences will result if any member states should fail to fulfill obligations.

Questions to Consider:

  • What actions has your country taken to address the issue of climate change?
  • Where does your country stand in relation to the goals set our for addressing climate change in the sustainable development goals?
  • Why has your country thus far not been able to reach these goals?
  • Is there any step or policies your country has taken that should be considered or adopted by the United Nations?
  • Has, or is, your country participated in any multi-state efforts or talks to address this issue?
  • Is there any program that could be created or used to address the concern of climate change? If so how should it be funded?
  • What are the current actions, if any, being taken by your country’s government to address climate change?

Documents to Consider:

Climate Change 2017 Synthesis Report (pg. 58) 

Resources to Consider:

Climate Action Tracker
Climate Change
Goal 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
UN Conference on Environment and Development (1992)