Some Progress: More Action Needed

6 October 2009

ECO was excited to see streamlined adaptation text emerging over the weekend, with content on almost all fundamental points. In addition, the Co-Chairs expect to have a shorter text by the end of the week.

Based on the contact group discussions, there is convergence between Parties on “practical delivery” but divergence on some vital areas. These include scale of finance for adaptation, additionality of finance to existing overseas development assistance (ODA) targets, a rights-based approach, and vulnerability and prioritisation for support.

ECO however is troubled by response measures.

These cannot be part of the adaptation component as response measures are not about adapting to climate change but about the spillover effects of measures to mitigate climate change.

It is also worrying that the focus of Annex I countries is on planning and delivery for adaptation. Non-Annex I countries have clearly articulated in session after session that the greater focus should be on action on adaptation.

The text on adaptation for Copenhagen must incorporate six key points.

Firstly, the fundamental principles: prioritise support to the most vulnerable people and countries; promote a rights and community based approach to adaptation; and incorporate transparent, participatory and inclusive decision making at all levels. Crucially, adaptation must also recognise the value and importance of healthy ecosystems.

Secondly, financial support must be both predictable and reliable, and result in regular and adequate flows. ECO believes reference to finance delivery must remain in the adaptation section, and supports strong references to adaptation in the main finance section.

Thirdly, the subsidiarity principle should apply. Countries and communities should decide what is needed to enable them to adapt, not developed countries or multilateral agencies.

Fourthly, the agreement must include a comprehensive approach to building resilience. There should be a stronger focus on addressing underlying risk factors for vulnerability, such as poverty and marginalisation.

Fifthly, a climate risk insurance mechanism should be initiated with two components. A fund for high-level, climate-related shocks financed by developed countries (to cope with disasters as just seen unfold in the Philippines and India), and technical and financial support for setting up and operating pro-poor micro insurance schemes.

Finally, there must be provisions to address loss and damage from irreversible large-scale impacts of climate change. To address this issue, Parties need first to recognise that such impacts are likely, especially if strong, science-based emission reductions targets are not achieved.

ECO is pleased to see reference to action on adaptation starting “now, up to and beyond 2012.” Parties must actively negotiate on these areas over the coming week. But the right words alone are not enough; brackets in the text highlight differences of attitude. Annex I Parties must recognise that financing for adaptation is not ODA. It is reparation for damage done – the adaptation deficit caused by their combined lack of mitigation action so far.

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