Time to face up to 4˚C
Waiting for the world to notice: After Copenhagen, where next for the world’s poor and climate change?
In December 2009, the UN Copenhagen climate negotiations failed to deliver the necessary international climate deal needed to halt dangerous global warming. With a year lapsed we are now at a most critical point for preserving the ability to avert the worst impacts, adapt to the unavoidable challenges, and stay within a manageable rise in temperatures. Without political action, we may face a 4 degrees rise in global temperatures (above preindustrial levels) by 2100. Yet the level of global warming we are currently locked into is already causing problems for people on the frontline of climate change - those in living in poverty. In December 2010, nations will gather again, this time in Cancun, Mexico, under the UN Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC) to try to arrange a global mechanism for dealing with climate change. The first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol expires at the end of 2012 and at present there is no successor. This paper describes what is needed in Cancun to ensure the world’s poorest are not left unaided to face the impacts of a problem that they have not contributed to.
The negotiations in Cancun
Despite the urgency of current climate science, it is unlikely that Cancun will announce the new climate change deal that was expected at Copenhagen. This is extremely dangerous, putting the planet in peril of an unmanageable rise in global temperatures and making it harder to adapt, a particular concern for those in poverty. This does not mean that positive action can not be expected and pursued in Cancun. The foundations of a global climate deal are split into themes worked on by negotiators (see diagram). In light of the difficulty of reaching a complete deal with agreements on all functions of the next climate mechanism at one conference, the possibility of concluding individual elements, which can be built upon and will eventually add up to a sufficient deal as part of a ‘balance outcome’, has gained interest in order to break the deadlock. This is not an ideal situation; the various elements are complementary and do not function in isolation. Yet the need for adaptation support in order for most vulnerable to prepare for the future is now so crucial that success here must be made. The full deal, however, should still be pursued with the urgency demanded by the current climate science. Without the other elements binding mitigation targets in particular - agreed and acted upon very soon, adaptation will become increasingly more difficult, and perhaps unviable.
Adaptation in Cancun Essential and achievable
Of all the elements that need to make up a new international climate change deal, adaptation is one of the most urgent. It has also proved less contentious than other elements, yet at present there is still not agreement on all the details necessary for an effective adaptation framework. It is an issue that can and must be resolved at Cancun. For a successful outcome, a range of items that can be implemented from 2013 onwards must be agreed: 1. Commitment to sufficient funding for adaptation over the long term. The estimated cost of this is to reach at least $100 billion annually by 2020. This must be given as grants not loans in accordance with the ‘polluter pays’ principle. 2. The establishment of an Adaptation Committee under the UNFCCC that consolidates its existing, but fragmented, provision of adaptation support. Its key roles should be to maintain an overview of all adaptation work, facilitate sharing of best practice on adaptation between governments and UN organisations and help developing countries access adaptation funds 3. An international insurance mechanism to fund response to and recovery from the social, environmental and economic impacts of extreme climate events affecting vulnerable developing countries 4. The setting up or enhancement of Regional Centres which will share resources and expertise on climate scenarios and adaptation. This could develop from the Nairobi Work Programme, already in operation, which seeks to provide capacity building and support on adaptation. KEY MESSAGE: Put the forgotten first: prioritise adaptation funding for the most vulnerable Wealthy nations must work as hard and fast as possible to secure adequate funding for adaptation. In the mean time, countries and communities most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change must be prioritised for all available adaptation funding.
The promise to fast-start adaptation
One of the few good outcomes of Copenhagen, was the promise from developed countries to provide fast-start finance ‘reaching USD 30 billion’ before 2013, to catalyse adaptation and mitigation activities in the most vulnerable countries. It is intended that these funds are to be ‘new and additional’, meaning the money has not been pledged before and will not be diverted from existing funds counting towards Official Development Assistance targets (ODA). Since Copenhagen, the amounts given have fallen short of promises and the means of dispersal biased heavily towards rich nations. Only $3.9 billion of the total has actually been given, 13 percent of the overall amount. On further scrutiny, only $5.2 billion (17 percent of the total pledged) is new and only $2.2 billion is additional. Furthermore, the mechanisms for dispersing the funding go against the idea that developed countries will support developing countries in dealing with climate change as part of the ‘polluter pays’ principle. $3.7 billion has been committed as loans rather than grants, putting developing countries in debt to rectify the problems caused by industrial countries. Lastly, only 1% of Fast Start Finance ($700 million) has so far been committed via the Adaptation Fund of the UNFCCC, the body favoured by developing countries for various reasons; its board has an equitable representation between developed and developing countries; it provides grants not loans; and it aims to fund projects and programmes focused on the most vulnerable communities. As recognised in the Copenhagen Accord, faststart finance is highly important, catalysing the wider implementation of adaptation measures which, because of the immediacy of funding, can be preventative, rather than reactionary. However, developed countries need to rapidly increase their contributions, which must be additional, and channel this money to the Adaptation Fund, if their promises are not to be exposed as hollow or, at worst, damaging to developing countries.
Mitigation Adaptation Technology Transfer Land Use, Land Use Change, and Forestry Shared Vision
Global Climate Change Deal
What is adaptation?
In order to deal with climate change, people in developing countries have to adapt - alter their lives and livelihoods so they can survive in the weather and seasonal conditions expected for their locale in the coming decades. Without adaptation, migration is the next option. Adaptation is particularly important for those reliant on natural resources, such as farmers as most rural poor are -, and those in areas that are already, or predicted to become, disaster prone. It may mean finding new seed varieties, improving local ecosystems, or pursuing an alternative means of income, but there are some aspects that underpin successful adaptation, such as civic rights, inclusion in social networks and increased income. Adaptation is already happening in various places around the world. Whilst the political negotiations delay, waiting is not an option for those in the most at risk areas. In some cases communities are supported to adapt, but in the main it is people’s actions in response to the current conditions they perceive. Yet there is a limit to what can currently be achieved, reached when a lack of capacity and protection combines with an extreme weather event or drastic changes in weather
patterns. In order to be able to cope with the future challenges, financial, technical and capacity building support will have to be provided and global emissions of greenhouse gases reduced rapidly within the next decade. Photographer: Rajesh KC Farmers in Nepal experience increasingly erratic rainfall and altered seasonal patterns
What can the UK do?
So far, the UK has shown international leadership with its national targets to cut emissions. The recent launch of the DFIDfunded Climate and Development Knowledge Network, which aims to support some sixty developing countries by sharing research, information and expertise on adaptation is a positive initiative. However, climate change is a global challenge and demands a global response, led by developed countries. The UK must press for an international climate treaty for the post-2012 era, working both within the EU and bilaterally with developed and developing countries to gain support for an agreement under the UNFCCC. In the mean time, securing critical ‘wins’ at and after Cancun to ensure the deal is fair, ambitious and binding will provide vital stepping stones. The UK should: • Press for agreement on a complete adaptation package, including all the items mentioned under the section ‘Adaptation in Cancun - Essential and Achievable’ overleaf, which would put in place the necessary governance, finance and capacity building support for adaptation to begin in 2013. Influence within the EU to push it to adopt an emissions reduction target of 30% below 1990’s level by 2020, working with those 56 countries within the EU that are seeking to prevent the EU from taking more progressive positions. Work in partnership with developing countries - which have contributed very little to global warming yet are often overlooked in the climate negotiations - to create trust. This will contribute to ensuring the correct and best adaptation support is given, as well as ensuring that developing countries understand what is required of them in delivering adaptation. Increase its contributions to Fast-Start Finance for adaptation, and ensure that this is additional (not diverted from funding contributing to Official Development Assistant targets) and create transparency on its reporting of additionality.
KEY MESSAGE: Adaptation continues… In the absence of a global deal, attempts at adaptation will continue across the world wherever people are forced to change. Farmers made landless by flooding in Bangladesh will decide whether it is plausible to rebuild when the waters subside, or move on. Kenyan pastoralists affected by drought will lead their herds even greater distances to search for water. Without a deal, more people will be forced to respond - successfully or unsuccessfully - to ever greater hazards. Yet it is possible to help people prepare for insecure and uncertain futures as part of their development out of poverty. However, successful adaptation will only remain a viable option in the future if a global deal is agreed that: 1. Compels rich countries to reduce their GHGs emissions drastically within this decade 2. Provides adequate support to developing countries to help the most vulnerable adapt To find out how Practical Action is helping people adapt, visit:
Practical Action is a development NGO that has worked for forty years directly with those communities which are now feeling the impacts of climate change. Practical Action therefore has a unique breadth of knowledge and experience in helping people overcome hardship. Alongside this, Practical Action has extensive knowledge in the field of advocacy, having worked on a number of issues to secure policy change within the EU, and education, working with both teachers and students in the UK for over 20 years to increase understanding of development issues .
The Schumacher Centre for Technology and Development, Bourton on Dunsmore Rugby, Warwickshire, CV23 9QZ, UK T +44 (0)1926 634400 W www.practicalaction.org
This briefing paper was produced by Practical Action as part of a project funded by the European Commission
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