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Climate Change and Sustainability

Climate Change and Sustainability

Do you ever think about the ways you are sustainable in your everyday life? Maybe you cycle to school, maybe you reduce, reuse and recycle, or perhaps you do all of these things. How does this connect to climate change? Sustainability is used to tackle the issue of climate change in a variety of ways, keep reading this explanation to learn more about climate change and sustainability.

Relationship Between Climate Change and Sustainable Development

There is a significant connection between climate change and sustainable development. Firstly, they are both factors that impact society and the environment. Climate change is presently a major, global issue that impacts the environment and society in several ways, and sustainable development aims to reduce the impacts of climate change that affect the environment and society.

Let's take a look at each of these two factors individually.

Climate Change

What is the definition of climate change?

Climate change refers to the changes in weather patterns over a long period.

Climate Change and Sustainability A Map Showing Changes in Temperature Across the Earth StudySmarterFig 1. A Map Showing Changes in Temperature Across the Earth.

Climate change plays a role in determining human landscapes and living conditions, which can impact both social and economic development. The impacts of climate change include rising temperatures, rising sea levels and extreme weather (droughts, flooding, storms.) These impacts can lead to negative effects on the environment and society, such as land degradation, disease, death, and mental health issues.

The effects of climate change are most severe in developing countries. This is because these countries are less prepared to cope and adapt to climate change impacts and because they heavily rely upon natural resources. This is why climate change mitigation and the overall tackling of the global issue are highly important.

Ways in which climate change can be tackled include measuring the impact of climate change and finding strategies and techniques to adapt to the issue climate change presents. Although members of the public and companies are essential in partaking in the methods of tackling climate change, government involvement is also critical.

Sustainable Development

Sustainable development is a means of maintaining development to ensure the needs of society are met presently, but also in the future.

Human development can negatively impact the natural environment as advances in science and technologies cause environmental harm. However, sustainable development attempts to reduce the development impact created on the environment and promotes ways in which society can adapt to the issue that climate change presents.

The three main elements of sustainable development are social, economic, and environmental.

Sustainable Development Policies

Some policies aim for sustainable economic, social, and environmental development. These policies can help to remedy impacts associated with climate change, of which include natural resource depletion, mass consumption, and the effects of pollution.

Sustainable Development Goal 13 is climate action. This goal aims to combat the impacts of climate change by enhancing education and awareness of climate change and its effects.

Sustainable Development Goals

Additionally, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are 17 different goals that attempt to improve our world through sustainable development. Some goals include the aim to end poverty, protect land and marine species, ensure clean water worldwide, ensure gender equality and tackle the climate issue.

Don't forget to take a look at the explanation of Sustainable Development Goals to understand more about the 17 goals.

Climate Change and Environmental Sustainability

The environment is a huge element linked to climate change due to the impact climate change has on the environment. This means that environmental sustainability is crucial in reducing the impacts of climate change.

Environmental sustainability focuses on sustainability within the natural environment. This includes conserving the natural environment as a whole, including resources within nature such as clean air and clean water, as well as wildlife, for future generations.

Governments, companies, and members of the public can all contribute to environmental sustainability. The table below shows the three different scales at which action can be taken to tackle the issue of climate change.

GovernmentsCompaniesMembers of the Public
Introduce loans and grants for green investments (such as renewable energies).Reduce, reuse, recycle.Reduce, reuse, recycle.
Insist companies have environmentally sustainable policies in place.Put sustainable policies in place.Make environmentally conscious purchases.
Introduce policies that protect the natural environment.Use sustainable products.Use less plastic.
Impose environmental laws.Reduce their carbon footprints.Reduce their carbon footprints.
Be conscious of their water use.Be conscious of their water use.

Agreement on Climate Change, Trade, and Sustainability

The Agreement on Climate Change Trade and Sustainability (ACCTS) was launched by five countries in 2019, these countries are New Zealand, Fiji, Costa Rica, Switzerland, Iceland, and Norway. The main goal of this initiative is to improve environmental challenges across the Earth, urging countries to act regarding the environment and climate change.

The main solutions in this agreement are:

  • Restrain Fossil Fuel Subsidies
  • Remove Tariffs on Environmental Goods
  • Improve Eco-Labelling

Lets' take a closer look.

Restrain Fossil Fuel Subsidies

What are fossil fuel subsidies? Well, they are financial incentives that encourage the production and consumption of fossil fuels.

A subsidy is a financial grant used to help promote a business or industry.

When fossils fuels are burned, they release greenhouse gases. Greenhouse gases are a major cause of global warming, which can lead to long-term climate change. (Greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide, hydrocarbons, and nitrous oxide.)

By restraining fossil fuel subsidies, the ACCTS attempts to reduce the use of fossil fuels, to promote cleaner air. This solution would therefore reduce the impacts of climate change.

Remove Tariff on Environmental Goods

Tariffs are currently used on environmental goods; they are taxes appointed by a government on goods that are imported, thus increasing the cost of the good and the competitiveness of domestic goods. These goods include renewable energy, adjusting air pollution, waste control and other methods that attempt to protect the environment and climate. ACCTS's intentions are to remove these tariffs on environmental goods to make it easier for countries to achieve environmental and climate protection.

Improve Eco-Labelling

Eco-labelling is a way of categorizing products so that consumers can identify how sustainable or environmentally beneficial a product is. The labels vary, but examples include how much pollution or energy consumption occurs as a consequence of the production of the product.

ACCTS aims to improve the quality of eco-labels, as many labels currently lack clarity and are often accused of "greenwashing." The addition of improved eco-labels would ensure companies are being as environmentally friendly as possible.

Greenwashing is when a business promotes its products with misleading information that suggests the product is more environmentally friendly than it actually is.

Sustainable Energy and Climate Change

Energy is crucial in terms of climate change. This is because some energy resources can contribute to negative environmental impacts such as global warming and therefore climate change, and others can reduce the impacts of climate change.

For example, non-renewable energies, such as coal, oil, gas, and nuclear are finite energy resources. They are unsustainable and contribute to global warming, which leads to climate change.

On the other hand, sustainable energy refers to renewable energies such as solar, wind, wave, biomass, geothermal, and hydroelectric. This type of energy is clean because it does not produce greenhouse gas emissions. These sustainable energies will therefore reduce the amount of pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Ultimately, helping to reduce the effects of climate change.

Climate Change and Sustainability Wind Turbines and a sunset StudySmarterFig 2. A Renewable Energy Resource: Wind Turbines.

Urban Sustainability and Climate Change

As the world continues to develop, urban expansion is occurring. Urban areas can cause negative impacts on the natural world such as suburban sprawl, poor sanitation, poor air and water quality, large ecological footprints in cities, high amounts of energy use, and climate change.

Climate Change and Sustainability an urbanised area StudySmarterFig 3. Urbanization.

Urbanization is causing adverse effects of climate change, such as extreme weather, which can further impact urban areas. Consequently, the infrastructure and energy and water supplies to urban areas can be impacted as a result of climate change.

Subsequently, urban sustainability aims to make sustainable solutions for urban areas to ensure suitable living conditions that benefit society and its economy whilst simultaneously reducing the effect urban areas have on climate change.

Climate Change and Sustainability - Key takeaways

  • Climate change and sustainable development both play a role in shaping the human and environmental factors of the world.
  • Governments, companies, and members of the public can contribute to environmental sustainability.
  • ACCTS is an initiative launched by five countries to tackle environmental challenges, specifically combating the issue of climate change.
  • Sustainable forms of energy can help tackle the global issue of climate change.
  • Urban sustainability faces challenges in suburban sprawl, sanitation, air and water quality, ecological footprints, energy use, and climate change.


  1. Fig 1. A Map Showing Changes in Temperature Across the Earth. (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Change_in_Average_Temperature_With_Fahrenheit.svg) By NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio, Key and Title by uploader (Eric Fisk) (https://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/maps/index_v4.html), Licensed by CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en).

Frequently Asked Questions about Climate Change and Sustainability

Climate change is important because it is a major global issue. Sustainability is important because it can help to reduce the issues that climate change presents on society. 

The difference between climate change and sustainability is that climate change is creating issues on earth and sustainability is creating solutions to issues on Earth. 

Sustainable development is ensuring development so that resources are available for future generations. Climate change is the change in climate patterns over a period of time. 

Climate change impacts society in a multitude of ways, and sustainability can find solutions that can reduce the impacts that climate change places on the environment.

The relationship between development and climate change is that sustainable development can be beneficial in reducing the impacts of climate change.

Climate change is affecting our community by placing pressures on society, the economy, and the environment due to rising temperatures, rising sea levels and extreme weather. Sustainability is more positive in affecting our community, as it helps to reduce these effects caused by climate change and ensure that resources will be available for future generations. 

Final Climate Change and Sustainability Quiz


What is climate change?

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Changes in climate patterns over a period of time.

Show question


True or False? The impacts of climate change are most significant in developed countries. 

Show answer



Show question


What are the three different scales that help tackle the issue of climate change?

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Governments, companies, and members of the public.

Show question


What does ACCTS stand for?

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Agreement on Climate Change Trade and Sustainability.

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What are the three main solutions in the initiative ACCTS?

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Restrain fossil fuel subsidies, remove tariffs on environmental goods, and improve eco-labelling.

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What five countries are involved in the initiative ACCTS?

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New Zealand, Fiji, Costa Rica, Switzerland, Iceland, and Norway.

Show question


Fill in the blanks. Eco-labels need improving because they are ____ and lack ____.

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greenwashing, clarity.

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What is greenwashing?

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When companies only sell green-colored products.

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True or False? Renewable energies such a solar and wind do not contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.

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Show question


What is sustainable development?

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Ensuring that resources, goods, and services will remain for the use of future generations. 

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Fill in the blank. ____ can help remedy the environmental and societal impacts of urbanization.

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Urban sustainability.

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