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Using planetary boundaries to support national implementation of environment-related Sustainable Development Goals

Report | 24-09-2018

This report presents a methodology for translating the global environment-related ambitions of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into national policy targets and applies this to the Netherlands. The methodology builds on scientific insights into planetary boundaries, fair and equitable distribution of global greenhouse gas emission reductions, and national footprint indicators.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development calls on governments to translate global ambitions of the SDGs into national targets and policies. However, the 2030 agenda is unclear about the level of global environmental change that would need to be avoided, and provides little guidance on how such a translation should be conducted.

Three steps for translation

The methodology of translating the global environment-related ambitions of the SDGs into national policy targets consists of three steps, each requiring normative political decisions: 1) setting global quantitative targets where they currently do not exist; 2) deriving national policy targets based on a fair and equitable distribution of the global targets; and 3) determining the environmental pressures that are taken into account when designing national targets.

Global quantitative targets

Setting global quantitative targets where they currently do not exist, involves normative decisions related to risk acceptance, solidarity and precaution. The planetary boundaries framework and the related literature can help in setting such targets.

Fair and equitable distribution

Scaling a global target to national policy targets requires normative choices with respect to equity and environmental justice. It can build on the climate change literature that discusses different proposals, and related implications, of a fair and equitable distribution of global emission reduction targets.

National environmental pressures and impacts

National responsibility for global environmental pressure and impacts can be determined from either a production or consumption perspective (footprint), i.e. taking into account the whole value chain. The choice of perspective is important when designing national targets.

Author(s)Paul Lucas and Harry Wilting
Publication date25-09-2018
Pages54
Languageengels