Important … Important … Important… Adaptation in the Paris Agreement

This post is also available in: French

There’s a lot of ground to cover before we will see a draft negotiation text from the non-paper, but it’s encouraging to see the adaptation troops working hard. If only ECO could be as impressed by the content of countries’ proposals!

Paris offers a chance to undo the long-standing problem of the international community’s lack of sincerity in addressing adaptation and loss and damage. ECO has a few suggestions on how best to change course:

Adaptation as a Guiding Objective

A guiding objective of addressing adaptation (with a keen focus on building resilience) is key. Paris must acknowledge what we already know as common sense: insufficient mitigation will mean higher needs on the adaptation front, and inadequate adaptation will result in greater loss and damage.

Principles for Good Adaptation

People, communities and ecosystems most vulnerable to climate change must receive special attention when it comes to adaptation planning, implementation and finance. Governments must take a human rights approach, building on the work from COP16. Adaptation should be community-driven and guided by science. Both the LDC group and Norway suggest these principles be enforced by the new agreement.

Support for Adaptation

The need for means of implementation for adaptation can’t be brushed aside. The recent IPCC report clearly highlighted the gap between adaptation needs and the support available. To achieve climate-resilient development, public finance, appropriate technology and capacity building support are needed. The starting point for the discussion is $50 billion of public finance as grants, or at least half, out of the $100 billion commitment, while estimates of adaptation finance needs suggests even this amount will not be enough considering that climate change will further unfold.

Adaptation Contributions

Various countries have opposed calling for adaptation contributions. Paris should operationalise a cycle of increased adaptation actions and support. This is against the backdrop that there is no evaluation of the existing adaptation architecture – and its implementation. It makes sense to install joint cycles for adaptation – we shouldn’t throw out the baby with the bathwater.

Loss and Damage

The IPCC has made it amply clear that the “limits to adaptation” extend as climate change occurs at a greater rate and magnitude. There are already several examples of adaptation not being possible under circumstances such as sea level rise, ocean acidification, loss of territory and biodiversity. The 2015 agreement needs to be informed by the latest scientific analysis. ECO demands that loss and damage be captured explicitly as a separate element in the agreement.

Almost all nations have agreed that addressing adaptation in Paris with political parity is “very important”. Unfortunately, ECO worries that such rhetoric is increasingly sounding like a broken record.