After a frustrating series of negotiations leading to bland compromises on unblocking funds for poor countries to make plans, a toothless criticism of the committee charged with ambition, and an unseemly struggle for control over the accounts, adaptation has been stranded at this COP.
The clue is in the name: climate change. When things change, we have to adapt to the new circumstances. What could be bigger than a change in the climate? Albert Einstein once described the environment as ‘everything that isn’t me’. Change that, and I have to adapt everything I think, plan, and do.
Of course, mitigation would be best. But, where we find ourselves today, adaptation has to happen. Millions of people are already faced with fundamental challenges: more frequent droughts, flooding, and storms threaten food security, ways of life, and basic rights. US$13.3 billion in adaptation finance is far below the $50b goal. The Adaptation Finance Gap report from 2016 tells us that adaptation costs could increase up to $300b by 2030.
Without a concerted effort by international institutions like the UN, adaptation will be a piecemeal effort with insufficient resources used inefficiently and ineffectively. The Global Commission on Adaptation is a start, but 1 year of action is certainly not enough. The theme should be more action, every year. We need long-term and predictable action.
LDCs and other developing countries are called to submit their NAPs by 2020, yet, there is still a lack of support in conducting this important but resource intense process. At COP26, adaptation should no longer be beached, but be swimming along in the mainstream of climate action.