Climate policy can only be successful if it is designed in a just way. This means that the urgency of climate action must be taken seriously and that the interests of all the people affected – both people harmed by climate change and those affected by the structural change necessary for climate-change mitigation – must be given equal weight.
2015 saw a historic double success for sustainability and climate policy. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, with its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the Paris Agreement on climate protection establish a system of ambitious policy goals for the world. The group of twenty major industrialized and emerging economies (G20) now needs to resolutely advance implementation of both agreements, seizing the opportunity of this ‘Great Transformation’ to sustainability as a unique modernization project that offers substantial economic development opportunities. Complete decarbonization of the world economy by 2070 at the latest can only be achieved by profoundly transforming energy systems and other high-emissions infrastructures. This transformation could inspire Innovation and channel Investment into sustainability and climate protection, e.g. into sustainable Infrastructures that need to be established and expanded. At the same time, the transformation could combat inequality and promote Inclusion within societies and globally, thus becoming an equity project. The G20, as a central global actor, should specifically promote the Four Big ‘I’s of sustainability and climate policy to ensure that conflicts over resources and their distribution are defused and international crises avoided. Sustainable development, and in particular global climate protection, is currently the only ambitious undertaking that involves all the world’s nations and resulted in a global consensus. Achievements in this enormous, complex policy field enable countries to establish mutual trust, making the ‘Great Transformation’ to sustainability also a peace project.