Tag: adaptation

Agenda for Adaptation

With a new negotiating text for negotiations under the LCA track, ECO finds many valuable elements but we nevertheless have some important concerns.  First and foremost, there seems to be the tendency, by developed countries in particular, to push towards the weaker options. 

In order to make the adaptation framework a driver for action in developing countries, rather than an empty shell, Parties must strive to provide clear linkages in the adaptation framework between plans and implementation, institutions and finance.  What is needed is a legal commitment to fund adaptation in the vulnerable countries according to their own priorities and preferred measures.

There are more than enough arguments for scaling up action. Here are three good suggestions made by the LCA Chair, fully supported by ECO.  Achieving progress on these issues in Tianjin will make a big step towards a successful and effective agreement in Cancun.

1. On institutional arrangements, ECO supports the establishment of an Adaptation Committee. While the Nairobi Work Programme generated important knowledge and lessons learnt, it is limited to scientific and technical work.  An Adaptation Committee not only can benefit from the NWP but also would have the task and the mandate to give additional impetus for large scale implementation, as well as providing the COP with the insights needed for more concrete direction-setting.

2. On the issue of monitoring and reporting of both finance and activities, ECO considers that developed countries should report on the support they deliver, and developing countries should report on their actions, progress achieved and lessons learnt.

However, the two types of reporting have to be considered separately. Based on their obligations, developed countries must report in the context of a defined, stringent monitoring system of finance (MRV). Reporting by developing countries on their actions is required to provide information and outcomes of the funded activities and analysis of the effects, but should not be used to deny future funding. Including local-level monitoring is crucial to ensuring that local populations targeted by the actions are given the opportunity to present their views.

3. Finally, the chair wants ideas on how to address loss and damage from climate change. ECO supports the demand put forward by the particularly vulnerable countries facing climate impacts for which adaptation will not be possible, for an international mechanism to address their losses and damage.  This should be established as soon as possible, but it must prioritise the particularly vulnerable countries and people. Conversely, inclusion of response measures is not acceptable at all; to begin with it would divert resources from the most vulnerable. The negotiating text (option 1) already provides a good overview of the required functions. While more time for technical considerations may be appropriate, an open-ended process of further consideration and a vague commitment of cooperation, as suggested through option 2 in paragraph 8 of the adaptation text, would not be appropriate. ECO highlights how important it is to move forward right here, right now.

The outcomes at Cancun will have a serious impact on the future of the UNFCCC process, with the most vulnerable countries having the most to lose from falling short or even outright failure.

Parties must carefully weigh the shortcomings in the current text and find a way to agree a framework that will signify success in the UNFCCC process. 

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Progressing the Nairobi Work Programme

Let’s face it, there hasn’t been that much progress here in Bonn to address the climate challenge. So ECO wants to share some thoughts about the Nairobi Work Programme (NWP).

The NWP was set up by decision 2/CP.11 to support all Parties in addressing vulnerability and impacts of climate change and adaptation. It was established as a 5-year programme and is due to end at COP 16. Through a succession of workshops involving Parties and observers – including NGOs – the NWP has created an open forum where information and experiences are shared in a cooperative manner across nine broad themes encompassing the whole range of adaptation needs. It has provided opportunities where observers can meet informally with Parties to discuss different approaches to similar challenges. Through an informal system of pledges, many different stakeholders have committed voluntarily to sharing knowledge and contributing in practical ways to capacity building. So it is not surprising that Parties are recommending to the COP to continue the NWP beyond Cancún. ECO also supports continuation of the NWP – it is one of the few activities under the UNFCCC that has actually made progress in building capacity to address the impacts of climate change. However, even a good thing can always be improved. 

The NWP has synthesised a lot of information and made it available to Parties and observers, but it still has some gaps to be filled. Here are some issues that the NWP should address in the next phase.  Has the programme had an impact on those most affected by climate change – the vulnerable communities in the LDCs and SIDS? How could the NWP be enhanced to meet their needs? How can a wider range of stakeholders, including indigenous peoples, be engaged to share their knowledge?

In a spirit of participation, there will be an informal meeting including observers, and an opportunity for all stakeholders to make submissions to the Secretariat, to collect views on the performance of and future scope of the NWP. ECO recommends that Parties engage more in the NWP and fully recognize its lessons not just on adaptation but also on cooperation in other areas of work under the UNFCCC.

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Loss, Damage and Survival

The failure of industrialized countries to reduce emissions and provide support for adaptation  means that some countries on the frontline of climate change are facing unavoidable impacts on their economy and for some, their survival as nations. In the face of this threat, small island states and other developing countries have tabled a loss and damage mechanism in the adaptation negotiations. Disliking certain elements of the proposed mechanism, the pre-Copenhagen strategy of quite a few developed countries was to kill the issue by not talking about it at all. Ignoring the issue is not an option: it will not go away. In picking up the pieces from Copenhagen, parties should bring creative thinking on how to help people and countries when sea levels rise, lands disappear under water and deserts spread. ECO applauds the Chair for putting Annex I countries on the spot by posing questions on this issue. However, the answers given by Australia, Japan and others show that Annex I has still not grasped the rapidly growing importance of this issue. Strengthening existing initiatives on risk reduction and insurance is a good start but will not be adequate by themselves.  A scale shift in global commitment and new mechanisms will be required to address the impacts both of extreme weather events and the more slowly emerging disasters of disappearing coastlines. A vital action ingredient is for Parties to acknowledge the consequences of unavoidable impacts. If most of 
London, for example, were just 1 meter above sea level (instead of a posted average of 24 m), would Annex I be more engaged?

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The 4Qs of Adaptation

Stressed negotiators hurrying into today's adaptation focused LCA contact group need not worry if they have arrived somewhat unprepared.  ECO is pleased to provide the four answers that have the potential to make a difference. On response measures (Q1), this question should be considered off-topic because the Bali Action Plan (adopted even by 'Friends of Response Measures') clearly gave the response measures a home under the pillar of mitigation. In any case, seeking compensation for reduced oil sales is holding the millions of people hostage who are suffering from climate change and in dire need of adequate support to cope with its adverse effects. On institutional arrangements (Q2), here's a summary, really just a soundbite, on the adaptation framework.  It should facilitate and ensure the provision of financial support by developed to developing countries. It would not organise funding disbursement; however, the adaptation committee would recommend further action to the COP if insufficient funding undermines the scale of support required under the adaptation framework. It would do so by linking up with the Kyoto Adaptation Fund Board as well as other proposed institutions tasked with finance disbursement such as the Copenhagen Green Climate Fund. On loss and damage (Q3), Annex I Parties should answer this question: What would you do if your country, its lands and the livelihoods of your people were becoming untenable or even starting to disappear under water or sand.  How would you face damages so substantial they are beyond your ability to adapt?  Parties should set up the international mechanism to address unavoidable loss and damage from climate change, through risk reduction and management, insurance and rehabilitation – against internationally established baselines -- adaptation is no longer possible. In Cancún, Parties should establish such a mechanism and operationalise at least the insurance component, while agreeing to launch the rehabilitation component at COP17, using the year in between to study and develop its modalities. On matching adaptation with support (Q4), our longstanding view is that developing countries should receive regular flows of grant finance through the financial mechanism and its operating entities in support of adaptation efforts. Needs and priorities should be identified through in-country, transparent and participatory adaptation planning, implementation and evaluation. Adaptation strategies can be disseminated consistently at the international level to support the continuous influx of finance, but there is no need for an 'adaptation registry'.

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EU starts fast, but...

ECO is eagerly awaiting today’s side event at which the EU will present its preliminary report on its fast start finance pledge. Not because the report itself will bring any new information to light -- it was leaked to the press weeks ago -- but to see EU negotiators try to answer the question on the lips of NGOs and developing country negotiators everywhere . . . how exactly is EU fast start finance 'new and additional'? Other developed countries might like to attend and pick up some tips. The EU had the right idea in suggesting a report on whether they were keeping their promises. This might help make up for the fact that most EU Member States have done a pretty good job over the years at breaking long-standing promises to provide finance to poor countries, whether as aid or climate finance under the UNFCCC. The Spanish Presidency started well, collecting information on Member State pledges, but then a problem arose. The EU's commitment first made in Brussels at the December leaders’ summit did not address whether the promises they were making were “new and additional” as required by the Copenhagen Accord.  It is clear that this means over and above the target to provide at least 0.7% gross national income (GNI) in official development assistance (ODA). Climate change imposes new costs on developing countries, so new money is needed to tackle it. Instead of owning up to relabeling old some ODA pledges and then adding them to the new fast-start climate finance total, EU governments thought it best to keep quiet and hope no one noticed . . . but some did.  Failing to ensure that climate finance is new and additional to existing ODA targets takes money that would otherwise have been available for spending on schools and hospitals in developing countries, to name one example. And that at a time when budgets for essential services are already being cut in the face of economic downturn.  And we won't mention more than just this once that most countries aren't even achieving their longstanding ODA pledges. All that said, ECO welcomes the EU’s readiness to face the music in today’s side event. We hope they come clean about recycling past promises and are ready to answer questions on the scale of money going to different countries, and will detail how it will flow through bilateral and multilateral channels, as grants and loans, and for adaptation and mitigation. This is just a preliminary report, and the EU will have another chance to get it right in the annual report due at COP 16. But to provide genuine transparency, and to ensure that the US and other rich countries are held accountable too, they should seek a common reporting framework. The Secretariat could be asked to take that on and add meat to the EU’s bare bones.

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How Biodiversity Supports Climate Resilience

This is the International Year of Biodiversity.  ‘So what’ ECO hears you say. ‘Nothing to do with us – we just deal with climate change.’ That would be wrong! Biological diversity supports ecosystems essential for human life, including climate regulation, water, food security and protection from natural disasters. Climate change is an increasing cause of biodiversity loss that in turn adds to the impacts of climate change.  Healthy ecosystems are particularly important for people living in poverty – they depend far more directly on natural resources for their livelihoods and survival.  Ah, now you’re seeing the connection to our agenda . . . The starting point is that mitigation and adaptation must be based on sound science. An important new report, ‘Global Biodiversity Outlook 3’ (Convention on Biological Diversity, May 2010) supports this. GEO3 is also a wake up call.  In many places across the world, natural systems supporting economies, lives and livelihoods are at risk of rapid degradation and collapse.  While the poorest people suffer disproportionately from deteriorating ecosystems, ultimately, everyone stands to lose.  Climate change and biodiversity are inextricably linked. Government policy and our personal choices determine how human drivers of both will shape our future. Time is short.  The challenge to stay below 2o C of warming looms ever larger. The current Copenhagen pledges add up to a 3o to 4o C world by 2100 at best. At the same time, we have massively failed to meet the CBD’s target to significantly reduce the rate of biodiversity loss globally by 2010 (agreed by world leaders at the Johannesburg World Summit in 2002 and integrated into the Millennium Development Goals, MDGs). Catastrophic changes to our planet could happen well within the lifetime of our children. One planet.  Unabated, these crises will change our planet’s unique human-life supporting conditions.  Above 2o C of warming, ecosystem capacity to meet the needs of present and future generations will be severely compromised.  In fact, even at a 1.5o C increase, lives in vulnerable places such as small island developing states and communities in the polar regions will be tremendously difficult, and for some, impossible. Costs increase the more we delay.  TEEB (The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity, 2009) is providing an economic evidence base for decision-makers, as Stern did for climate change. Addressing these challenges together will reduce costs and secure multiple benefits. But we must not steal from one pot to put money into another.  New, not recycled, public money is essential. Money promised in the CBD process in the past should not be counted towards satisfying fast-start finance promises. Adaptation can support or harm nature and people. Supporting natural and social resilience is cost effective, locally appropriate and our insurance mechanism for the future. Mitigation.  Nature can help. Ecosystems such as forests and peatlands absorb and store carbon, as do oceans and water bodies.  If our mitigation choices harm natural systems, such as biofuels replacing natural forest, we risk releasing stored carbon into the atmosphere. 190 Parties engaged in the UNFCCC are also signatories to the Convention on Biological Diversity. Meeting the MDGs by 2015 is the international commitment to tackle poverty. This year through to Rio+20 in 2012 provides an opportunity not to be missed. Governments will meet to discuss biodiversity in New York this September and Nagoya in October, international development at the MDG Summit in New York in September and climate change in Cancun at the end of 2010. Parties in the UNFCCC have a crucial role to play in encouraging cooperation and ensuring effective opportunities to make sure the links are made at national and international levels.  Addressing these interconnected crises in a mutually reinforcing way is the only realistic and cost effective way forward for our modern world.

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