Shyama Venkateswar Distinguished Lecturer, Hunter College and Director, Public Policy Program, Roosevelt House

Posted on October 2, 2015 · Posted in Frank Friday

Last week, the United Nations released an ambitious global development agenda that serves as a blueprint for action for the next 15 years in the areas of poverty, inequality and climate change. Known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), they replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which expired this year. The SDGs – 17 in all – took three years of negotiations between world leaders before they were adopted by the 193 member states of the United Nations as the agreed-upon priorities that would form the basis of global policy making until 2030.

As the opening speaker of the development summit meeting at the UN General Assembly last week, Pope Francis’s central message – caring for our planet and the world’s most vulnerable citizens – reinforced the principles of the SDGs, and set the stage for the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference to be held in Paris later this year. The hope is to achieve a global climate treaty by the end of the year that is legally binding and commits countries to cuts in carbon emissions and the creation of a global fund to help those nations most severely impacted by climate change.

China has already outlined its cap-and-trade policy in 2017; the United States, the European Union, Brazil, and Indonesia have revealed their plans as to how they plan to cut emissions. Earlier this morning, India,  the world’s third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, submittedits commitment that it will cut intensity of carbon emissions by 33-35 percent by 2030 from 2005 levels, while still maintaining that its priority is to address its entrenched poverty.

Do the new SDGs go far enough? What’s the likelihood that world leaders can arrive at a climate treaty when there’s such a sharp division between major players like EU countries and the U.S. on the one hand and newly emerged economic powerhouses like India and China on the other?

The writing and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute or Hunter College.