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To achieve the dual goals of minimising global pollution and meeting diverse demands for environmental justice, energy transitions need to involve not only a shift to renewable energy sources but also the safe decommissioning of older energy infrastructures and management of their toxic legacies. While the global scale of the decommissioning challenge is yet to be accurately quantified, the climate impacts are significant: each year, more than an estimated 29 million abandoned oil and gas wells around the world emit 2.5 million tons of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. In the US alone, at least 14 million people live within a mile of an abandoned oil or gas well, creating pollution that is concentrated among low-income areas and communities of colour. The costs involved in decommissioning projects are significant, raising urgent questions about responsibility and whether companies who have profited from the sale of extracted resources will be held liable for clean-up, remediation and management costs. Recognising these political goals and policy challenges, this article invites further research, scrutiny and debate on what would constitute the successful and safe decommissioning of sites affected by fossil fuel operations – with a particular focus on accountability, environmental inequality, the temporality of energy transitions, and strategies for phasing out or phasing down fossil fuel extraction.

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It has been predicted that, by 2050, 70 per cent of the world’s population will be living in urban settlements. It is no wonder that the United Nations has taken note and is acknowledging cities now more than ever in global frameworks. Efforts to achieve global goals that improve the well-being and quality of life of citizens must now recognize their increasingly urban dimensions, a shift that culminated in the development of Sustainable Development Goal 11, to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. This chapter explores the history of the development of SDG 11 and how this evolved from the narrow focus on cities in the Millennium Development Goals. It also analyses the growing role of city governments as transnational actors, working through an ecosystem of city networks to play a significant part in global environmental governance.

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Some 759 million people lack access to electricity, and 2.6 billion are without clean cooking solutions. Yet universal access to modern energy services must be achieved without additional emissions. Therefore, climate targets need to be achieved on the basis of clean energy sources. This chapter first discusses how policy making in developing countries has shifted in the past decade, from viewing energy as a sector to regarding it as an enabler for broader socio-economic goals. The chapter also discusses the pertinent linkages of SDG 7 (Affordable and clean energy) with other SDGs, and highlights key actors and institutions in that policy domain. Second, the chapter offers best practice in clean energy access policies. The case of Kenya is used to illustrate policy success. Third, the chapter puts a focus on clean cooking, and the specific challenges presented by this aspect of SDG 7. Zooming in on sub-Saharan Africa, the chapter shows how countries struggle to implement adequate policies despite the multifaceted co-benefits in terms of health, gender or environmental protection. Finally, the chapter presents key policy action points from the perspective of the carbon neutrality target and the 1.5 °C scenario, and in light of the latest IPCC Sixth Assessment Report.

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Perceptions, Actors, Innovations
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With Agenda 2030, the UN adopted wide-ranging Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that integrate development and environmental agendas. This book focuses on the political tensions between the environmental objectives and socio-economic aspects of sustainable development.

The collection provides an introduction to interlinkages, synergies and trade-offs between the ‘green’ and other goals, such as gender equality and economic growth. It also considers related goals on cities and partnerships as crucial for implementing environmentally sound sustainability. Identifying governance failures and responsibilities, it advocates for a shift towards cooperative economics and politics for the common good.

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This chapter critically analyses SDG 8 (Decent work and economic growth) and its targets from the perspective of degrowth, and suggests how the economy and work could be reoriented towards socio-ecological transformation. First, it problematizes the goal of perpetual economic growth, which is not compatible with ecological sustainability because of the impossibility of decoupling GDP growth from material and energy throughput at the global level. It also pays attention to injustices entangled with the pursuit of growth. Second, it discusses the understanding of work in SDG 8, arguing that the growth-centrism of societies makes work unsustainable and unjust, while the current targets address the symptoms rather than underlying causes of the problems with work. Third, instead of economic growth, the chapter argues that socio-ecological transformation is a more fitting orientation for societies. In line with this goal, it formulates a vision of regenerative economy focused on well-being, sufficiency and equity, and a vision of work that emphasizes work in regenerative activities, its democratization and working less. In conclusion, it suggests that the overall framework of Agenda 2030 needs to focus on well-being rather than the growth-focused and Western notion of development, and articulates an alternative to SDG 8.

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Climate change has recently received a lot of attention, but global environmental governance deals with a much broader range of problems, including deforestation, ocean pollution and freshwater scarcity. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are an effort to integrate environmental governance and socio-economic development. This volume provides an accessible and comprehensive introduction to the most important areas of global sustainability governance for the environment. Authors highlight the prevailing, but controversial, perception of the environment as a global commodity. Actors and institutions demonstrate the highly fragmented and polycentric landscape of global sustainability governance. Planetary boundaries do not contradict development goals per se. However, innovative and alternative forms of governance that integrate environmental, social and economic goals are limited to voluntary actions. There are alarming signs that governments are generally trading off the environment in implementation. There is hence a need to consider seriously what comes after the SDGs and whether to continue along the chosen paths.

Open access

Climate change has recently received a lot of attention, but global environmental governance deals with a much broader range of problems, including deforestation, ocean pollution and freshwater scarcity. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are an effort to integrate environmental governance and socio-economic development. This volume provides an accessible and comprehensive introduction to the most important areas of global sustainability governance for the environment. Authors highlight the prevailing, but controversial, perception of the environment as a global commodity. Actors and institutions demonstrate the highly fragmented and polycentric landscape of global sustainability governance. Planetary boundaries do not contradict development goals per se. However, innovative and alternative forms of governance that integrate environmental, social and economic goals are limited to voluntary actions. There are alarming signs that governments are generally trading off the environment in implementation. There is hence a need to consider seriously what comes after the SDGs and whether to continue along the chosen paths.

Open access

Climate scientists have warned that, without immediate and sharp cuts to the dependence on fossil fuels, the Paris Agreement’s 1.5 °C goal is likely to be overshot within this decade. Demands for a rapid exit from fossil fuels, particularly coal, are intensifying. A growing number of countries and regions have set net zero climate targets for mid-century and more and more countries are issuing plans to speed up the transition of their energy systems. At the same time, various actors have worked to slow climate action, and fossil fuel interests persistently delay or obstruct decarbonization efforts. This chapter summarizes the long history of international climate negotiations, presents the current status of climate programs in selected countries and sheds light on the role of recent (anti-)climate movements. It argues that the implementation of SDG 13 (‘urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts’) faces three key challenges: (1) the tension between increasing urgency and a voluntary post-Paris climate governance regime; (2) the need to balance development priorities with climate change concerns; and (3) the sociopolitical struggles attached to climate action.

Open access

Climate change has recently received a lot of attention, but global environmental governance deals with a much broader range of problems, including deforestation, ocean pollution and freshwater scarcity. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are an effort to integrate environmental governance and socio-economic development. This volume provides an accessible and comprehensive introduction to the most important areas of global sustainability governance for the environment. Authors highlight the prevailing, but controversial, perception of the environment as a global commodity. Actors and institutions demonstrate the highly fragmented and polycentric landscape of global sustainability governance. Planetary boundaries do not contradict development goals per se. However, innovative and alternative forms of governance that integrate environmental, social and economic goals are limited to voluntary actions. There are alarming signs that governments are generally trading off the environment in implementation. There is hence a need to consider seriously what comes after the SDGs and whether to continue along the chosen paths.

Open access

Climate change has recently received a lot of attention, but global environmental governance deals with a much broader range of problems, including deforestation, ocean pollution and freshwater scarcity. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are an effort to integrate environmental governance and socio-economic development. This volume provides an accessible and comprehensive introduction to the most important areas of global sustainability governance for the environment. Authors highlight the prevailing, but controversial, perception of the environment as a global commodity. Actors and institutions demonstrate the highly fragmented and polycentric landscape of global sustainability governance. Planetary boundaries do not contradict development goals per se. However, innovative and alternative forms of governance that integrate environmental, social and economic goals are limited to voluntary actions. There are alarming signs that governments are generally trading off the environment in implementation. There is hence a need to consider seriously what comes after the SDGs and whether to continue along the chosen paths.

Open access