Cameron Hepburn
Picture of Handbook on the Economics of Climate Change

Transformational change: parallels for addressing climate and development goals

Penny Mealy and Cameron Hepburn, ‘Transformational change: parallels for addressing climate and development goals’ in Chichilinisky and Rezai (eds) Handbook on the Economics of Climate Change, pp 397-419, 2020

Climate change and poverty alleviation are, as Stern (2016) has coined, ‘the twin defining challenges of our century’. Historically, efforts to address these two challenges have been conflicted. However, two important developments suggest a new global readiness to move beyond historical conflicts and instead take advantage of key commonalities and collective interests. The 2015 adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) demonstrated an acute awareness that any plan to advance living standards of present and future generations must address the inseparable links between people, the planet and prosperity, while the Paris Agreement provides a promising new international platform to progress a unique collective framework for global climate cooperation. Against this encouraging backdrop, this chapter draws attention to a somewhat under-appreciated, but profoundly important commonality in the twin climate and development challenges: both require societies to navigate and manage system-wide transformative change. As a better understanding of the process of transformational change could catalyse progress on both climate and development fronts, this chapter explores parallel efforts in respective fields.