Assessing sustainable development impacts of scaling-up climate action in the electricity sector: Lessons learnt from country processes

Wider socio-economic and environmental benefits(and trade-offs) of actions to mitigate climate change are increasingly gaining traction in national and international policy discourse. When properly assessed and incorporated into the political debate, they can become key drivers of the global transition compatible with limiting future average temperature rise to within1.5°C. The articulation of so-called “co-benefits” of climate action helps shift the notion of climate change mitigation from a rather negative framing around risks and burden-sharing, to a more positive one of synergies and opportunity. When understood and integrated into policymaking, sustainable development benefits can help raise national climate efforts by supporting the effective implementation of NDCs as well as more ambitious reformulation of them in line with delivering on the goals of the Paris Agreement. While measures to tackle climate change in the electricity sector can lead to a wide range of benefits -through improved air and water quality; more secure, accessible and sustainable energy supplies; or opportunities for economic development and job creation-as with any transition, there will likely be those that stand to gain more and those that are potentially disadvantaged. An analysis of the likely magnitude and distribution of future impacts–positive as well as negative -can help policy-makers both to prepare the skills and capacities required to enable systematic change as well as to support those that stand to lose out from the transition to adjust in a fair and socially equitable manner.