In Focus: UN Sustainable Development Goal 13. Climate Action

In this article as part of our ‘Work for UN Sustainable Development Goals’ series we are looking into Goal 13. Climate Action, explaining exactly what the goal is and why it’s important, as well as highlighting employers who are standing at the forefront of Climate Action advocacy. 

Climate Change. It’s everywhere. We hear about it on the news, see it on our TV’s and experience it in our communities. It is the biggest issue we will face in our lifetimes.

The changing climate affects every aspect of our lives, from disrupting global economies, to threatening human health and livelihoods around the world. More and more people are experiencing its effects, from rising sea levels to extreme weather and disappearing natural ecosystems. 

This momentum has led to an epidemic of fear surrounding what seems like an unattainable goal when it comes to changing the narrative on climate action. According to the 2021 ONS Survey, 75% of Britons reported feeling worried about the impact of Climate Change, with many citing helplessness and anxiety over their families’ futures, and globally 45% say that climate change negatively impacts their lives on a daily basis

Keeping this in mind, it is no wonder Climate Action was selected as one of the key UN Sustainable Development Goals, committing to taking ‘urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts’. 

The goal is underpinned by 8 indicators under 5 targets, ranging from reactive objectives such as ‘strengthening resilience and adaptive capacity to climate related disasters (13.1)’, to those that build awareness, education and preventative infrastructure, such as ‘building knowledge and capacity to meet climate change (13.3)’ and ‘integrating climate change measures into national policy and planning (13.2)’. 

Alongside these targets, several high-profile agreements and bodies have been introduced to help mobilize nations to deliver on Goal 13, including the UN Framework Convention of Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Annual COP (Conference of the Parties) Summit and The Paris Agreement

Unfortunately, even with all these structures and plans in place, not enough is being done to divert the current trajectory of the climate crisis, with UN Secretary-General António Guterres declaring a ‘Code Red for Humanity’ in 2021 off the back of an alarming IPCC Climate Report.  Here’s what we know so far: 

  • According to the 2021 UN Sustainable Development Goals Report,  greenhouse gas emission reached record highs in 2020, with the year currently being one of the hottest on record. This indicates that we are still considerably off track for maintaining the Earth temperature at 1.5-2 °C above pre-industrial levels, as was the aim of the Paris Agreement. 
  • The world is currently experiencing 5 times the amount of extreme weather events compared to 50 years ago, destroying communities and ecosystems alike and impacting human health and wellbeing, all of which costs the global economy billions. 
  • Global sea levels have risen by around 8 inches since 1900 and continue to accelerate annually. Meanwhile, deserts are expanding, 750 billion tons of ice is melting every year due to global warming, and deforestation is now the second-leading cause of climate change (with the first being the burning of fossil fuels). 

It’s not all bad news though. Innovative new discoveries in technology and research have given us hope that progress is still possible towards the fight against climate change. Here are just a few of the things happening right now: 

  • Energy is our way forward: Wind and Solar Energy is not only now cheaper than most fossil fuels, but regularly out-competes harmful energy sources in most nations. If we commit to continuing the progress we are making now, renewable energies will half our current electricity production emissions by 2030 (WWF, 2021), and millions of jobs could be created. 
  • Businesses are under pressure to step up and create impact: From Patagonia to Lush to Ben & Jerrys, big-name brands across the globe are putting values over profit when it comes to the Climate Crisis. This is creating a huge amount of pressure for other businesses to follow suit, especially when over 60% of consumers are beginning to choose brands and workplaces based on their values. 
  • Innovation is everywhere: While we are all worried, it is important to remember that this is a global problem – which means there is a global network of people fighting to find solutions every day. Check out this list from the UN celebrating just a few of the Climate Action Projects that made an impact in 2021.  With Climate funding increasing by 74% since 2012, you can be sure there is a lot more where that came from in the future. 

So many of us feel overwhelmed and anxious when it comes to Climate Action. But through small changes in our personal and professional lives, we can make a big impact. At Ethical Jobseeker, it is our mission to champion candidates and employers seeking to use their skills and make a difference. Here are few of the organisations we support doing just that…

Global Witness is a non-governmental organisation campaigning for a more sustainable, just and equal planet. For over 25 years, the organisation has held government bodies and companies accountable for their destruction of the environment, disregard for the planet and failure to protect human rights. Through investigating and exposing environmental and human rights abuses, Global Witness have championed worldwide causes. From their first campaign tackling the illegal timber trade in Cambodia which had been used to fund Khmer Rouge rebels, to their most recent work campaigning to end corporate complicity leading to the EU voting to place people over profit, this organisation is serious about driving accountability!

Friends of the Earth, a not-for profit founded in 1971, campaign and drive practical solutions to climate-related issues. They commit themselves to ‘a peaceful and sustainable world based on societies living in harmony with nature’. Most recently they have shown this mission through success in contributing towards securing the first Climate Change Bill in Northern Ireland, as well as winning a major court case against Shell Nigeria for oil pollution along the Niger Delta. Fresh off the back of the COP26 conference, they have many exciting and important projects ahead. 

Finance Earth is the UK’s leading environmental impact investment advisor and fund manager, working to enact tangible environmental and social change through the creation of critical investment strategies and funding opportunities, designed to aid the restoration of natural environments and the communities that rely on them. To date, Finance Earth has created over £500 million in impactful investment structures, and work with clients such as WWF, RSPB and The National Trust. 
There is so much more to be done to achieve out Climate Action goal, and it starts with all of us applying our skills to those that can use it for positive change. 

If you want to find out more about the goals, visit the UN SDG website. 
To track the goals, see the UN SDG Tracker by Our World in Data here, or visit Climate Action