Climate Adaptation Summit 2021: Usual reassurances to act on climate crisis but no new finance to match words to action

26 January 2021

26 January 2021: The Climate Adaptation Summit concludes today with the launch of the Adaptation Action Coalition, a new international coalition launched by the UK COP26 Presidency to turn political commitments into adaptation action on the ground. But no new and additional financial pledges were made by rich countries to specifically support adaptation.

The US government has signaled its willingness to re-engage with international climate policy, with presidential envoy John Kerry promising a significant increase in finance for adaptation initiatives. The EU and UK called on more countries to join the Pledge of Nature.

While Climate Action Network welcomes this summit’s focus on adaptation, an often neglected pillar of climate action, yet another meeting ends with more speeches but no concrete deliverables to match the level of finance and assistance needed as millions of people particularly vulnerable communities in the global south continue to suffer from escalating climate impacts. Finance remains the greatest barrier to adaptation action.

The world continues to suffer from the Covid19 pandemic, climate impacts and ecological devastation, food insecurity and poverty and the urgency to meet the immediate needs of vulnerable communities for their very survival is more critical than ever.

Quotes from CAN members

“While countries in the global south like Uganda are willing to raise ambition in their respective Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) whose costs they cannot meet solely, the Climate Adaptation Summit 2021 must accelerate action to generate climate finance to tally with this ambition to sustain global momentum (especially local actions) to pursue efforts limiting the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels”. — Kimbowa Richard, Programme manager, Uganda Coalition for Sustainable Development

“The first task of the Adaptation Action Coalition must be to scale up climate finance, without which low-income countries, already suffering due to climate change, will be unable to adapt to more extreme weather. Only a fifth of all reported public climate finance to developing countries is currently spent on adaptation, so increasing that to half must be an urgent priority, as secretary general Antonio Guterres has called for. In addition, we must reduce the share of climate finance provided in the form of loans. Around 80% of climate finance provided in 2018 was in the form of loans and other non-grant instruments. The world’s poorest countries and communities should not be forced to take out loans to protect themselves from the excess carbon emissions of rich countries, contributing to rising, and in many countries, unsustainable debt levels. Adaptation finance must be in the form of grants and spent on locally-appropriate adaptation plans and take into account the different needs of men and women.” — Nafkote Dabi, Climate Policy Advisor, Oxfam 

“We have seen some momentum and positive political sentiment during the Climate Adaptation Summit. But we are, once again, missing the commitment for support and action needed to address adaptation meaningfully. We need real support and finance to translate into tangible action in vulnerable communities. Without this, the lives and livelihoods of these communities and the natural world on which they – and all of us – depend – will continue to be devastated. The time for talking is past. The time for real action is now.” — Sandeep Chamling Rai, Senior Advisor for Global Climate Adaptation Policy, WWF

“Although we applaud the intention, we haven’t seen any signs of new, substantive action at the first Climate Adaptation Summit. Leaders didn’t address the fact that developed nations are still not living up to their commitments. Over ten years ago, developed countries promised to spend 50bn USD on extra support for adaptation in developing nations by 2020 and so far they’ve only delivered a fifth of this. CARE’s research on adaptation finance released last week shows that publicised support has been exaggerated and over-reported. As we speak, cyclone Eloise is bearing down on Mozambique and Zimbabwe, and displacement camps in Syria have been destroyed by heavy flooding. There can be no compromises on climate finance when vulnerable communities are at risk right now. We need to see a clear plan on how countries will live up to their commitments and seriously boost financial contributions in the run up to COP26, along with honest and transparent accounting.” —  Inge Vianen, CARE International’s Global Leader on Climate and Resilience 

“Adaptation finance must work for people and nature. This means moving away from short termist solutions that put a price on nature, particularly forests, to inclusive strategies that strengthen community resilience and recognise their resource rights.” — Marie-Ange Kalenga, Policy Advisor, Fern 

“2020 was Europe’s warmest year on record at 1.6°C above the pre-industrial times, and extreme heat waves, forest fires, and windstorms were wreaking havoc across Europe. It is of crucial importance that the EU not only steps up its mitigation efforts to achieve the Paris Agreement goals but also increases its adaptation efforts. The EU’s forthcoming adaptation strategy needs to set out how the Member States will strengthen their adaptation efforts at home, and support global cooperation on the Paris Agreement’s adaptation goals. — Wendel Trio, Director of Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe

“As areas of Mozambique still reeling from the devastation of Cyclone Idai are pounded by another powerful storm and severe flooding, it serves as a stark reminder of the urgent need to support developing countries already battling the climate crisis.
Yet, there is a huge and widening gap between the support needed by vulnerable nations to adapt and protect against the impacts of climate change, and the finance being provided by rich countries.
This week’s summit must serve to energise lacklustre efforts on adaptation. Experts in the global south have the solutions, they just need the resources to protect their frontline communities.” — Harjeet Singh, global climate lead at ActionAid 

“Precise, effective and transparent financial aid and tech transfer are urgently needed. It is essential that this is distributed equitably and takes into account crucial issues of environmental justice. The promotion of nature-based solutions should be a central objective, recognising its benefits for climate mitigation, adaptation and wider social, health-related and economic benefits. We must not forget that the impacts of the climate crisis will intensify and that we can’t adapt to a land underwater or meaningfully to a desert at 50 degrees. Mitigation is urgently needed and adaptation strategies must never be used as an excuse to delay the most rapid move to zero carbon possible. As Henry Neufeldt, head of impact assessment and adaptation at UNEP, has said: ‘The more we mitigate, the less we have to adapt.’  Similarly, our overarching response to the climate crisis must take fully into account the historical contribution to global heating from wealthy developed nations in the West, that have also benefited the most from the carbon economy and conversely recompense those who have contributed the least, benefitted the least and are commonly among those communities affected first and worst by the global heating.” — Steve Trent, co-founder and executive director, Environmental Justice Foundation

“Climate change is a reality and we must learn how to adapt now. Lack of adaptation may become a driver  for famine, conflicts and migration, while investments in adaptation can save lives and livelihoods. For years adaptation has received limited attention, and it is therefore good to see heads of presidents, prime ministers, and ministers, talking about the need for adaptation action. I hope these engaged speeches will all turn into concrete action” — Mattias Söderberg, Chief advisor, DanChurchAid

“Southeast Asia is home to countries highly vulnerable to impacts of climate change. Concerted action on adaptation is as important as mitigation efforts for the region, and much more needs to be done. Greater resources, especially finance, need to be provided to vulnerable communities to help them adapt and become resilient to climate change.” — Nithi Nesadurai, Regional Coordinator, Climate Action Network Southeast Asia

“Climate crisis is here and now. People on the frontlines need money to rebuild their homes and livelihoods. Communities are right now burdened with the droughts, floods and hurricanes of climate change they did not cause. Fancy global meetings which fail to give them funding are useless.
This is an emergency that the UK COP26 Presidency must address, fast by listening to the needs of the most impacted people and ensuring they receive funding and support.” — Sara Stillwell, Climate and Communications Lead, Robin Hood Tax Campaign UK

“If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it’s that we can work together in a crisis. Climate change is no different; it is a crisis that needs our urgent reaction. The Arab countries are some of the most vulnerable countries to climate change in the world. The Arab leaders need to put climate change at the same level as COVID-19. It should be treated as a life or death matter. Communities in these countries have already experienced the impacts of climate change. From flooding in Yemen and Sudan in 2020 to the high temperatures witnessed in Jordan and other countries, these communities have zero adaptation measures. Most of them are already facing political and socio-economic struggles. We need our governments to hear the voices of these communities. They need to adopt adequate and urgent measures to lift their citizens from their miseries and enable them to face the impacts of climate change.” — Fatima Ahouli, Regional Coordinator, Climate Action Network-Arab World

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