Adapting to a hotter planet has never been more important, and progress has been made at COP27

Adapting to a hotter planet has never been more important, and progress has been made at COP27

global warming

Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public domain

As the COP27 climate summit drew to a close this weekend, it is important to recognize that progress has been made on climate adaptation, although more can be done.

“Climate adaptation” is a term that refers to how countries adapt to the impacts of climate change. This could be, for example, by strengthening infrastructure to better withstand disasters, moving cities out of floodplains or transforming the agricultural sector to minimize food insecurity.

As the costs of disasters rise, it has become increasingly urgent for developing countries to determine who will finance adaptation to climate change. For decades, they’ve been asking rich countries — largely responsible for the climate crisis in the first place — to foot the bill.

So let’s explore what COP27 achieved, how those achievements could translate into tangible commitments, and what needs to happen now to give everyone a chance to survive on a warmer planet.

A tricky question

The thorniest issues in the climate change negotiations concern finance: who gives, who receives, how the money is received and what kind of finance is made available.

Developed countries do not have a good track record in this regard. In 2009, they pledged to mobilize US$100 billion a year in climate finance by 2020, a goal that has yet to be met.

Moreover, most climate finance so far has been directed at helping developing countries reduce emissions, rather than adapt.

As Dina Saleh, regional director of the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development, explained at the conference, failure to help rural people adapt could lead to more poverty, migration and conflict. She says:

“We call on world leaders from developed countries to honor their pledge to provide the $100 billion a year in climate finance to developing countries and channel half of it [for] climate adaptation.

Adaptation financing remains insufficient

The United Nations has created different funds to channel funding for adaptation, including the Least Developed Countries Fund, the Special Climate Change Fund and the Adaptation Fund.

At COP27, eight countries pledged $105.6 million for adaptation through the Least Developed Countries Fund and the Special Climate Change Fund, including Sweden, Germany and Ireland. Others, such as the United States and Canada, expressed possible future financial commitments.

These funds come on top of the $413 million pledged at COP26 in Glasgow last year, through the Least Developing Countries Fund. The money will target the most urgent adaptation efforts, such as strengthening infrastructure, social safety nets and diversifying livelihoods.

There is also specific new funding for small island developing states. While this development was welcomed by the Alliance of Small Island States, it also indicates that faster processes are needed to make the money available.

Small island nations such as Tuvalu are already experiencing severe climate impacts, and the projections are dire. For example, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that some atolls are likely to experience coral bleaching every year by 2040.

These islands are also particularly vulnerable to tropical cyclones. A single big event can set back development for years. For example, in 2016, Tropical Cyclone Winston swept away more than a third of Fiji’s GDP in about 36 hours.

Similarly, other highly vulnerable countries in Africa and Asia are calling for easier access to adaptation finance. The Adaptation Fund featured an innovation that made it easier for countries to access the money and ensured that it directly addressed the needs of each country.

Adaptation & Agriculture Day at COP27.

At COP27, this fund received over US$230 million in new pledges. However, he currently has unfunded adaptation projects worth US$380 million in the pipeline, signaling the urgent need for increased funding.

Progress is progressing

The 2015 Paris Agreement set the “global adaptation goal” to drive collective progress on climate adaptation around the world. At COP27, countries agreed to develop a framework for this goal in 2023. This includes gender-responsive approaches, as well as science-based metrics and targets to track progress.

Another important element is the “global stocktake” on adaptation, which measures progress at the national level in meeting the obligations of the Paris Agreement.

During COP27, it was noted that so far only 40 countries have submitted their National Adaptation Plans, which identify adaptation priorities and strategies to reduce climate vulnerability. Questions remain about how to accelerate the planning, implementation and financing of these plans.

Sharm-el-Seikh’s adaptation program was also launched by the two UN-appointed high-level climate champions. These seek to engage non-state actors, such as cities, businesses and investors, to drive ambition on climate change adaptation.

The ultimate goal of the agenda is to help 4 billion people become more resilient to the impacts of climate change by 2030. It has 30 adaptation outcomes to aim for, including:

  • protect 3 billion people from disasters by installing smart, early warning systems in the most vulnerable communities

  • investing $4 billion to ensure the future of 15 million hectares of mangroves worldwide

  • Mobilize US$140-300 billion from public and private funding sources for adaptation.

And now?

Many adaptation finance pledges were made at COP26 and COP27, and the next step is to get the money where it’s needed most.

With climate impacts already unfolding rapidly, communities around the world must develop the capacity to plan for climate adaptation. This requires action at all levels and should not be left to local communities alone.

Making progress on climate adaptation in the years to come is crucial. Early action and planning can save thousands of dollars, but only if we have strong processes in place to make decisions before impacts occur. This requires more planning, investment and collaboration between local, regional, state and international levels.

But the most important thing is the will to change our state of mind. We need to stop operating under a business as usual model and push for a more sustainable world in this changing climate.

Provided by The Conversation

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