Sustainable Development Goal 13: Climate action

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Community-led initiatives have a strong relation with climate change responses, from mitigation to adaptation, but mainly focusing on the transformation required to tackle climate change. Most CLI do promote and implement several concrete measures that decrease significantly greenhouse gas emissions (and consequently emissions per capital), such as promotion of more climate friendly transportation (such as biking, public transportation and car sharing), increasing the consumption of a vegetarian or vegan meal based on local production and support of renewable energies, as well as promote carbon capture by the several activities related to increasing the soil quality, regenerative forms of gardening and plantation of plants and trees in public and private land. Transition initiatives, since 2006, that are developing "energy descendent plans" for their territories and ecovillages and permaculture projects investing in nature-based solutions to nurture their natural environments and settlements resilience to climate change. CLIs, by building stronger and more capable communities, do pave the way for us to stay below 2ºC of global warming but also build a fundamental capital and resource to be readier in times of climate crisis.

Global Definition

See UN Global Assessments, Targets and Goals here [1]

SDG13 - Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts UNDP official site [2]

Situation in the EU

"For SDG 13 'climate action', data coverage is sufficient for the topic 'climate mitigation', while trends of indicators on 'climate impacts' and 'climate initiatives' cannot be availability of data. Indicators in the sub-theme 'climate mitigation' predominantly show progress, with the EU being well on track to reach its targets for greenhouse gas emissions, renewable energies and energy consumption." ( 2017:16)

Climate in the EU (SDG13).png

Table SDG13.png


Community-led Initiatives and SDG13

Climate action considers mitigating greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, adapting to climate change impacts and transforming the way we live in this planet as a society [3]. Community-led initiatives towards sustainability and climate action, namely the ones represented within ECOLISE, are known to consciously and actively respond in these multiple dimensions [4][5]. Also, the values, motivations and background that lead people individually and collectively to enrol in climate action consider our respect for the rest of Nature, of which we depend, social justice and experimenting new economic lifestyles[6].

  • Mitigation

Contributions of community-led initiatives to reductions in carbon emissions is significant based on the few projects that have managed to monitor CLI carbon footprints and their carbon handprint potential (considering the carbon sink activities that these initiatives promote and engage in). European CLI have demonstrated the ability to reduce carbon footprint by 25% in the energy domain (by promoting renewable energy sources) and 7% by promoting vegetarian and vegan meals. By choosing more sustainable personal transportation CLI members tend to reduce 11% their individual carbon footprint within the transportation domain. [4] Many CLIs are known to have much lower carbon footprint that their regional or national average, such as Sieben Linden ecovillage in Germany that has a carbon footprint only 27% of the German footprint [7],


  • Adaptation and Resilience

[8] [9] [10]

  • Transformation

For example, Transition initiatives have started by considering pick oil and climate change as the main challenges to tackle by local communities. One of the first outcomes that Transition Network suggested to initiatives worldwide is a local (city, town, etc…) energy descendant plan. Other CLI do also promote lifestyles that have a direct and indirect influence climate change mitigation and adaptation. Initiatives that promote more vegetarian/vegan and local food production and consumption can reduce their GHG footprint by 7%, while promoting sustainable individual transportation (such as biking) could reduce this footprint by 11% (TESS GHG report).

"If 5% of European citizens engaged as beneficiaries of CBIs similar to the ones sampled, almost 85% of the EU-28 countries would meet the target of reducing GHG emissions by 20% by 2020 (considering the food/agriculture, waste, energy and transport domains)." ( :11)

1. Carbon Reduction (number of avoided emissions in Kg Co2)

Among the emission-relevant activities carried out by the CBIs, the most recurring are “Provisioning of goods and services” and “Provisioning of fruits and vegetables”. Among the emission-relevant activities carried out by the CBIs, the most recurring are “Provisioning of goods and services” and “Provisioning of fruits and vegetables”. “Transportation of Goods” presents a 94.7% average reduction of GHG emissions in relation to the baseline scenario, with absolute results ranging from 1785.6 to 43464.3 kg CO2e/y for the respective CBIs. Absolute emissions reductions for the activity “Infrastructure for Local Food Markets” vary from 153.5 to 4433.5 kg CO2e/y, with averages of 1303.0 kg CO2e/y absolute emissions (20.8% reduction from baseline) and an efficiency of 0.18 kg CO2/kg. The very different sizes of the initiatives (94 to 888940 kg of food redistributed per year) correspond to very different absolute savings in terms of GHG emissions, presenting an average of 145234.2 kg CO2e/y per CBI. The average absolute reduction in GHG emissions for the initiatives in the activity “Repairing, Reusing, Upcycling” is very high (1574395.1 kg CO2e/y, with an average efficiency of 34.3 kg CO2e per product). The average absolute reductions from CBIs in the energy domain are 612312.3 kg CO2e/y (84.3% from the baseline), ranging from 40241.4 to 2367142.9 kg CO2e/y for CBIs. For the food domain TESS results suggest that what you eat is much more relevant than how it is produced: by consuming vegan and vegetarian meals, beneficiaries of the analysed CBIs can reduce their GHG footprint by around 7%. Also, the redistribution of still-edible food from supermarkets has a large relevance for climate mitigation. [4]

  1. https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdg1
  2. http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/sustainable-development-goals/goal-13-climate-action/targets/
  3. IPCC, 2014: Climate Change 2014: Synthesis Report. Contribution of Working Groups I, II and III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Core Writing Team, R.K. Pachauri and L.A. Meyer (eds.)]. IPCC, Geneva, Switzerland, 151 pp.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 TESS. TESS Policy Brief GHG. (2016)
  5. Mehmood, A., 2015. Of resilient places: planning for urban resilience. Eur. Plan. Stud. 1–13. https://doi.org/10.1080/09654313.2015.1082980
  6. Howell, R., Allen, S., 2016. People and planet: Values, motivations and formative influences of individuals acting to mitigate climate change. Environ. Values.
  7. Daly, M., 2017. Quantifying the environmental impact of ecovillages and co-housing communities: a systematic literature review. Local Environ. 22, 1358–1377. https://doi.org/10.1080/13549839.2017.1348342
  8. Satterthwaite, D., 2011. Editorial: Why is community action needed for disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation? Environ. Urban. 23, 339–349. https://doi.org/10.1177/0956247811420009
  9. Mancebo, C.E., De la Fuente de Val, G., 2016. Permaculture, a Tool for Adaptation to Climate Change in the Communities of the Laguna Oca Biosphere Reserve, Argentina. Procedia Environ. Sci. 34, 62–69. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.proenv.2016.04.006
  10. Karim, M.E., 2018. Exploring the Impact of Climate Change on the Outbreak of Early Twenty-First-Century Violence in the Middle East and North Africa and the Potential of Permaculture as an Effective Adaptation. Weather Clim. Soc. 10, 179–186. https://doi.org/10.1175/WCAS-D-16-0130.1