1. LIMIT WARMING TO 1.5°C
Deep decarbonisation is required to limit future global temperature rise to a maximum of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. Each increase in temperature rise adds to the severity of climate impacts.
Despite the collective pledge in the Paris Agreement to halt global temperature rise at 1.5oC, the world is on track to exceed 3oC of warming by the end of the century. Today, at just about 1.1oC of temperature rise, the world is witnessing unprecedented climate impacts in the form of floods, heatwaves, forest fires, drought, and other climate extremes. We need to urgently cut emissions within this decade without further delay. Current emission reduction pledges communicated by the parties to the UNFCCC through the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) are nowhere near the required level of ambition. The NDCs should be comprehensive of all aspects of the Paris Agreement, including planning for adaptation and Loss and Damage. Currently, most NDCs have been primarily about mitigation, although each party can decide what issues they would like to include.
The latest IPCC report reiterates that current NDCs are insufficient to deliver on the P1.5oC ceiling. The current NDCs put the world in danger of crossing tipping points within this decade. More comprehensive NDCs that integrate adaptation and Loss and Damage would ramp up ambition by highlighting a broader variety of challenges and opportunities and prioritising global efforts across a spectrum of urgent issues. The developed country parties should use their NDCs to showcase their plans to fill the gaps in meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement, especially in terms of assistance to climate-vulnerable countries.
Further to this, the process to formulate the NDCs should take a whole-of-society approach where the needs of climate-impacted communities are well-articulated and actions are taken on the basis of scientific evidence. Developing countries should be provided with adequate financial, technological, and capacity building support for the formulation and implementation of their NDCs. Ultimately, the NDCs should collectively reflect the Paris Agreement Goals to mitigate and adapt to climate change and address Loss and Damage. In doing this, the NDCs would reflect a whole-of-society approach that includes and amplifies the voices, views, priorities, and knowledge systems of frontline communities, including women, youth, low-income and marginalised groups, and Indigenous Peoples.
Anchoring loss & damage in enhanced NDCs
2. SCALE UP CLIMATE FINANCE
Climate finance needs to be increased considerably, with at least 50% of public climate finance dedicated to adaptation in the form of grants. Loss and Damage should also be allocated new and additional finance.
Boost Climate Grants
Climate finance needs to be increased to be in line with global needs, with increased priority for adaptation. Therefore, at least 50% of public climate finance should be dedicated to adaptation, flowing in the form of grants and not loans.
Without adequate finance, the ability to implement mitigation measures at the speed and scale necessary to keep global temperature rise at a maximum of 1.5oC will be impossible. Adaptation to the changing climate in developing countries will also fail. Slow progress on mitigation and failure to adapt in time will also accelerate loss and damage, which currently has no dedicated financing stream. The lack of adequate finance means that the already scarce financial resources will be diverted away from mitigation and adaptation to assist humanitarian assistance, short-term preparedness, and post-disaster reduction. Our experience with working for communities at the frontline of climate impacts, however, shows us that addressing loss and damage, in particular, requires long-term and holistic risk reduction.
All developed countries must prioritise to meet their existing commitment to provide $100bn per year in climate finance starting in 2020. They must present clear plans on how the deficit will be met in subsequent years to ensure a minimum of $500bn in total is mobilised between 2020-2024. Further to this, climate finance needs to be increased in line with accelerating global needs. The annual cost of adaptation is expected to reach $140-300bn in 2030 and $280-500bn in 2050. Similarly, total residual damages—even after successful adaptation—will rise to $290–580bn in 2030, $551–1,016bn in 2040 and $1,132–1,741bn in 2050. In 2009, the developed world promised $100bn per year in climate finance, a promise that was enshrined in the Paris Agreement, but this promise is still to be delivered. Therefore, we need a clear metric to monitor contributions to global climate finance to ensure that each country’s fair share can be measured, as the absence of this guidance makes it difficult to hold individual countries to account. Accordingly, a new global target for adaptation finance should be established along with the new climate finance target, which should be commensurate with delivering the Global Goal on Adaptation (GGA).
Access to climate finance must be prioritised for the most climate-vulnerable countries and communities, especially for women, youth, low-income and marginalised people, and Indigenous Peoples.
New and Additional Finance for Loss and Damage as a Priority
In many countries, especially the most climate-vulnerable and low-income communities, people face irreversible climate impacts and they risk losing everything. To respond to this growing urgency, a new climate finance mechanism is needed to mobilise at least $75bn for Loss and Damage starting in 2023.
There is no mechanism under the UNFCCC to provide financial support to vulnerable developing countries to address economic and non-economic loss and damage resulting from the climate crisis. The slow progress in mitigating climate change and inadequate support to adapt to climate change in developing countries have accelerated loss and damage. Without a dedicated mechanism for loss and damage funding, the communities on the front lines of the climate crisis will remain in peril.
A new loss and damage finance mechanism should be established under the UNFCCC that is governed in an inclusive, representative manner and listens to all voices, especially those of women, youth, low-income and marginalised groups, and Indigenous Peoples. The loss and damage finance mobilised should be new and additional to the existing $100bn per year, committed by developed countries for mitigation and adaptation. Within this, an additional amount of at least $75bn per year should be earmarked to address loss and damage for the pre-2025 period. The post-2025 climate finance target should have a clearly defined sub-target for loss and damage.
Lessons from COVID‑19 for addressing loss and damage in vulnerable developing countries
Why do developing countries need support to address loss and damage?
3. ADDRESS LOSS AND DAMAGE
Many low-income and vulnerable communities around the world are facing loss and damage from climate impacts. Climate change is disproportionately affecting those who contribute the least to the problem. This needs to be acknowledged and addressed urgently at COP26.
Practical Action has worked in hazard-prone locations for many years. We have seen first-hand the shift from occasional hazards events to regular and supercharged climate hazards with catastrophic impacts on communities that are the least responsible for the climate emergency. Local people and governments have attempted to respond to these hazards by implementing early warning and forecasting systems and enhanced response measures. However, as we saw with Cyclone Amphan in Bangladesh in 2020, these measures are inadequate to the scale of the emergency unfolding. We have thus started to help local partners understand the nature and scale of the climate emergency to understand the growing climate risk better. We have also helped evaluate existing response measures to explore areas where earlier action can reduce impacts. But we are facing an uphill struggle. Without dedicated finance and collective global efforts, it is already too late for many of these communities. The only option left is to migrate, leaving their homes, livelihoods, friends, and cultures behind.
The impacts of climate change include slow-onset events (e.g. desertification, rising temperatures, loss of biodiversity, sea-level rise, salinisation) and extreme weather events (e.g. droughts, heatwaves, cyclones, floods), which may result in loss and damage. Loss and damage can denote both economic and non-economic losses. Economic loss and damage is broadly defined as permanent and irreversible losses to lives, livelihoods, homes and territory, while non-economic loss and damage is the loss of culture, identity and biodiversity, namely, losses that cannot be quantified in monetary terms. The Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage (WIM) was established at COP19 in 2013 to address issues around loss and damage. At COP21 in 2015, Loss and Damage was adopted as a separate article in the Paris Agreement as distinct from adaptation. Below are some targets that we at Practical Action find crucial to achieve regarding loss and damage at COP26:
The SNLD Should Be Operationalised
The parties to the COP25 in Madrid (2019) agreed to operationalise the Santiago Network on Loss and Damage (SNLD) to catalyse the technical assistance to respond to climate impacts at the local, national and regional levels in climate-vulnerable developing countries. However, the parties did not specify how to operationalise the SNLD or how it carries out its work. With vulnerable developing countries already suffering loss and damage, the SNLD is critical in providing the technical assistance they urgently need to address these.
The COP26 needs to agree on the operational modality of the SNLD that is fit for purpose and able to mobilise the technical assistance that developing countries facing loss and damage urgently need. This must ensure the SNLD is designed with all stakeholders’ full, active, and inclusive inputs and agreed at COP26.
Loss and Damage Should Be a Standing Item on the COP26 Agenda
Loss and Damage should be a standing item on the COP agenda, to be discussed on par with mitigation and adaptation. Further to this, the WIM should report to both the CMA and the COP to improve its governance and accountability, and to guarantee that all work on loss and damage remains cemented in the delivery of the Paris Agreement and under the Convention.
Loss and Damage Should be an Indicator of Progress in the Paris Agreement
At the moment, we do not have an indicator for how well we are delivering the Paris Agreement; the only widely recognised indicator is the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). A reduction in loss and damage would be an excellent outcome indicator for the Paris Agreement and could be established quickly using existing global risk databases and attributional science. A commitment to refine the indicator over time to deliver more robust reporting on loss and damage impacts in frontline countries could also be agreed on.
Further to this, an outcome indicator to report on the progress to deliver the Paris Agreement is necessary. Global loss and damage data is readily available to serve as an indicator. This would also increase focus and ambition to accelerate adaptation and address loss and damage at a global scale.
Finally, loss and damage as an indicator of progress would uncouple loss and damage from adaptation and resilience, a necessary step to establish loss and damage as a standing item. At COP26 specifically, the UK presidency should provide equal space to discuss Loss and Damage, i.e., in the Green Zone, thematic days, and the UK pavilion, on par with other climate issues.
In this process, it should also be recognised that loss and damage is inextricably linked with pre-existing socioeconomic vulnerabilities. Therefore, loss and damage assessment methodologies should unpack the conditions faced by frontline communities, including women, youth, low-income and marginalised groups, and Indigenous Peoples, to report on the differentiated aspects of loss and damage.
Review of the Climate Technology Centre and Network: To inform ongoing negotiations to establish the Santiago Network for Loss and Damage
Assessing and addressing-climate induced loss and damage in Bangladesh
Assessing and addressing-climate induced loss and damage in Nepal
Establishing the Santiago Network for Loss and Damage: What We Can Learn from Climate Technology Centre and Network
4. DRIVE INCLUSIVE ACTION
All climate action must be grounded in a whole-of-society approach that includes women, youth, low-income and marginalised groups, and Indigenous Peoples. Only a diverse and inclusive COP that recognises these groups as rights-holders can overcome the blockages that stand in the way of progress.
The latest IPCC report is clear: climate change affects every person and every region of the planet, but its impacts are highly disproportionate and further exacerbate existing socioeconomic inequalities. The people who have done the least to contribute to the climate emergency are most severely affected.
At Practical Action, we know that when disasters strike, women frequently carry children and elderly relatives to safety. When drought hits rural communities, men usually migrate to cities in search of work, leaving women and children behind to find ways to adapt. As more frequent weather events put pressure on natural resources, women and girls travel further and spend more time collecting fuelwood and water at the cost of education, income generation, and sometimes at serious risk to their safety. These are often referred to as the “differentiated” impacts of the climate emergency.
Even with the deep decarbonisation of our economies, the climate emergency will continue to destroy lives and livelihoods with more frequent and fierce extreme weather events – floods, cyclones, droughts, heatwaves, and more. Unless underlying inequalities between and within societies are addressed, the brunt of the crisis will continue to impact those already made vulnerable by exclusion and marginalisation.
The irony is that many of the solutions to the climate crisis are already known to communities that face exclusion and marginalisation. Indigenous Peoples have been sustainably managing forest resources for generations. Women farmers in drought-prone rural areas are cultivating and propagating small grain landraces better suited to the changing climate. The pursuit of relentless economic growth at all costs is not an ideal subscribed to by many of the communities where Practical Action works. Unless these voices are allowed to shape the negotiations at the COP, we stand little chance of saving the planet from climate change.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are the first unifying framework agreed by all member states of the United Nations. They apply equally to the so-called “developed” and “developing” countries. Principle two of the universal values that underpin the SDGs is “leave no one behind”. This principle will not be achieved unless the world takes the differentiated impacts of the climate emergency seriously and makes urgent and substantive steps to address these.
Only an inclusive and diverse COP can achieve the scale of climate action needed to address the climate emergency the planet now faces. Frontline communities have been excluded and marginalised for too long. COP26 must not replicate the structures and processes of exclusion. The voices, knowledge, and expertise of frontline communities, including women, youth, low-income and marginalised groups, and Indigenous Peoples, are critical to negotiating inclusive, effective, and sustained solutions to the climate emergency. Proactive action and solidarity are required to amplify these voices. Inclusion and diversity within delegations are essential, as is the participation of constituted bodies such as Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform (LCIPP), Women and Gender Constituency (WGC), Indigenous Peoples Constituency, or Youth Constituency.
Women, youth, low-income and marginalised groups, and Indigenous Peoples should play a part in developing, implementing, and overseeing the strategies, action plans and budgets that emerge from the COP, including those regarding mitigation, adaptation, and loss and damage. Government and civil society must show solidarity with these people as rights-holders, not as “beneficiaries”. The differentiated impacts of climate change on frontline communities should be recognised through effective reporting processes and should not be overlooked by focusing on gender-blind global or national averages only.
Equality and inclusivity should also become an indispensable part of the COP. According to the UNFCCC Secretariat’s recent report titled “Gender Composition,” the gender breakdown of negotiating teams at COP25 indicate that 40% of delegates were women and 27% of heads and deputy heads of delegations were women. At COP26, we should work swiftly towards achieving an equal and inclusive negotiation process, where all parties make substantive steps towards gender balance in their delegations. Similarly, representatives from Indigenous and other frontline communities must be included in national delegations. More broadly, the voices, views and priorities of frontline communities, including women, low-income and marginalised people, youth and Indigenous Peoples, must be sought by the parties, including via the constituted bodies under the convention such as Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform (LCIP), Women & Gender Constituency, Indigenous Peoples Constituency, Youth Constituency.
10 things to know: Gender equality and achieving climate goals
Policy Paper (3 MB)
5. PROMOTE SOLUTIONS THAT WORK FOR PEOPLE AND NATURE
All climate action to protect ecosystems, restore degraded lands, build resilience, and transform livelihoods must be grounded locally. Our participatory and grounded approach supports long-term and sustainable nature-based solutions in climate adaptation, disaster risk reduction and agriculture. Big change can, in fact, start small.
Support Locally-Led Adaptation that is in Harmony with Nature
The scale and intensity of the climate emergency means that we need to get more resources delivered to communities on the frontlines of the emergency faster and at greater scales. This requires a re-evaluation of existing approaches to adaptation dominated by top-down projects. Local communities are on the frontlines of climate impacts, yet they rarely have a voice in the decisions that affect them the most. This is especially true for frontline communities, including women, youth, low-income and marginalised groups, and Indigenous Peoples.
Despite the promise of $100bn in climate finance, too little of these funds are targeted to reach the most climate vulnerable. Despite a commitment of a 50:50 split of climate finance between mitigation and adaptation, less than 20% appears to be going to adaptation. One of the reasons for this unbalanced distribution is the criteria used to select projects for funding. These have a strong emphasis on return on investment, which is difficult to measure in many adaptation projects. Therefore, we need to shift the status quo from top-down project design to a new approach where local actors have greater power so they can get the resources they urgently need to adapt and address the impacts of climate change.
Climate finance and national climate change strategies and plans need to be directed towards approaches that ensure support is grounded in the local context and responds to the needs of climate-impacted communities. As Practical Action, we support locally-led projects where frontline communities play a central role in their development, management, implementation, evaluation, ownership and are the principal beneficiaries.
Nature-based Solutions should be Inclusive and Long Term
Nature-based Solutions (NbS) are interventions to protect, restore, and sustainably manage nature to advance climate mitigation and adaptation that benefits people and biodiversity. They include protecting and restoring forests, managing land and water, or protecting and restoring coastal ecosystems. NbS can reduce exposure and increase resilience to climate risks and enhance community adaptation. They can work in harmony with engineering solutions while lowering costs. Participatory approaches that underpin NbS can enhance climate change mitigation, adaptation, the socio-economic wellbeing of communities, biodiversity, and the health and diversity of ecosystems. Well-designed NbS that deliver these combined benefits can effectively support the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
NbS will be a high-profile issue at COP26, proposed as a potential solution to multiple climate challenges. Carbon finance mechanisms expected to flow under Article 6 are likely to have significant links to NbS, especially finance to promote tree planting as a climate mitigation strategy. But there is currently no clear guidance on what constitutes effective NbS. Ambiguities around NbS create the potential for ineffective solutions and, worse, greenwashing and the commodification of nature, and risk delaying the deep decarbonisation of our economies globally. Poorly planned and implemented NbS marketed as “climate solutions” risk creating a false impression that we are tackling the climate emergency, delaying the necessary actions that need to be taken. They also risk exacerbating existing inequalities, denying communities access to the natural resources they are connected to by tradition and practice.
To date, much of the interest in NbS has been to deliver mitigation. However, NbS have enormous potential to deliver multiple benefits: adaptation and mitigation, sustainable productivity, and improved ability of people and communities to cope with climate impacts. NbS are easily accessible and relevant to rural communities as they work with communities’ existing assets and indigenous knowledge systems to generate livelihoods and increase food security.
Therefore, NbS presented at COP26 must deliver social and ecological benefits. In addition, they must include frontline communities to build on the existing community and indigenous natural resource management systems. Finally, NbS should be included in climate action strategies and plans, supported with effective indicators that measure their climate action in social and ecological dimensions. Frontline communities should play a central role in the development, management, evaluation and ownership of NbS to ensure that they deliver global and local benefits. The current economic, social, or cultural use of the natural resources on which the NbS are based must be considered, recognising that a lack of formal tenure does not override informal tenure systems. Accordingly, discussions at COP26 should guide parties on incorporating NbS in their climate action plans, especially NAP and NAMAs, and highlight opportunities to support their implementation and rapid scale-up.
Support Inclusive and Regenerative Agriculture
The majority of the world’s poorest live in rural areas. They depend directly or indirectly on agriculture and biological ecosystems, namely, the natural environment. Climate change has severe direct and negative impacts on these systems. Therefore, all climate action should work to improve rural livelihoods and ensure that rural livelihoods are sustainable and inclusive.
At Practical Action, we know that working with communities on agricultural adaptation needs to build on local and indigenous knowledge and build capacity in rural communities, empowering people to innovate, plan, and implement adaptive technologies. We also know that global agriculture and food systems should adopt sustainable agroecology principles to:
- Improve productivity within local and planetary ecological boundaries,
- Improve the ability of farmers to adapt to the changing climate,
- Reduce agriculture emissions by increasing soil organic matter, ground cover, and reducing the negative impact of agriculture on forests and wetlands, and
- Ensure the inclusion of smallholder farmers and recognising, respecting, and working with women farmers and Indigenous Peoples to build on their knowledge and expertise.
To bring these goals to scale at local, national, and global levels, COP26 should ensure that agroecology and smallholder agriculture are included in the measurements for the Global Goal on Adaptation (GGA). Further to this, agricultures should be captured in Parties’ NDCs in a way that recognizes that agriculture expands beyond just mitigation and that smallholder farming systems carry great potential.
Bio-dykes: Working with nature to reduce flood losses
Community-based land and water management for adaptation at scale in Sudan
Coffee agroforestry as a win-win solution in Peru
Agricultural adaptation to climate change
Renewable Energy Enables Climate Change Adaptation for Smallholders
Policy Paper (773 kB)