Climate action: why is the single-issue approach risky?
Climate Change Global Warming Sustainability Goals

Climate action: why is the single-issue approach risky?

Prof Dr Ilan Kelman
Prof Dr Ilan Kelman

In 10 seconds? Climate change deliberately and explicitly separates itself from action on other societal challenges. New research on biodiversity and climate supports the long-standing calls to integrate topics, providing important advice for the COP26 climate conference.

What’s the benefit here when we need to cut emissions? Integrating and connecting issues stops causing more problems than are solved. Take the example of supporting diesel vehicles to cut human-caused CO2 emissions, only to discover that they augment air pollution and could add to climate change. These trade-offs were known early in the US.Yet the London “congestion charge” (adopted in 2003) initially favored diesel vehicles to support greenhouse gas emission cuts but lead to increases in other pollutants. Another study explored how planting trees to increase uptake of greenhouse gases can take away land for food production, contributing to hunger. These examples’ commonality, including the new paper on biodiversity, is that focusing on a single topic — ie. climate change  —can produce other problems.

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