Adaptation is Additional by Definition

As negotiators continue to wrangle over procedural issues in the adaptation contact group, Parties should be preparing for a possibly contentious debate on an issue that is nonetheless essential – the additionality of climate finance.

ECO has overheard very few developed countries in the corridors who are ready to provide climate finance in addition to their obligations to provide 0.7% of gross national income (GNI) for overseas development assistance (ODA). Most developed countries apparently hope to get away with cherry-picking their future aid budgets to meet the potential provisions of a Copenhagen agreement on financial support for adaptation (and mitigation as well) in developing countries.

There are some important reasons why climate finance needs to be additional – and that means not only additional to existing ODA flows, but additional to ODA targets.

First: Finance for adaptation is not aid but advance compensation for climate change impacts experienced by developing countries from emissions by developed countries.

Second: The pledge to deliver 0.7% of developed countries’ GNI as aid was made long ago – and long before the additional burden of climate change became apparent. To be sure, 0.7% is not exactly a huge amount of money if we are to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and the developed countries aren't on track for their ODA targets on the MDGs.  Not even close, in fact.

Third: In a fair Copenhagen agreement, developed countries would have to provide public finance of at least $50 billion per year for adaptation (and $100 billion for mitigation and other needs). If just a portion of these totals were to be obtained by diverting money for climate change purposes from future aid budgets, this would come at the expense of already scarce resources needed for basic education, health care, sanitation, housing and poverty eradication.

The argument is often heard that adaptation interventions cannot be considered as separate from development. However, while it's true that adaptation efforts should be consistent with poverty reduction and development programs, adaptation funding must be additional.

An increasingly hostile climate makes development increasingly expensive. This necessitates new resources for agriculture, increases in social and private insurance, and investment in new buildings and infrastructure, to name only a few.  These are the costs of adaptation, and they are by definition additional. Therefore, adaptation financing should also be truly additional, and not extracted from future aid budgets.

ECO will be listening closely when developed country colleagues speak on their plans to provide new and additional financial resources. If the LCA adaptation text in para 14(p) made the 0.7% target explicit, it would have it just right.  So developing country delegates may wish to focus on this paragraph when working on the finance chapter of the LCA text.

[Article published in Climate Action Network's Eco Newspaper, Sep. 30, 2009 from Bangkok, Thailand UNFCCC negotiations - full PDF version here]