Adaptation under the Copenhagen Accord

While most of the analyses of the Copenhagen Accord to date have focused on its mitigation provisions, its adapatation provisions could also be critical given projected temperature increases this century of 2-4C. Linda Siegle of the Foundation for International Environmental Law & Development (FIELD) has prepared an excellent briefing note (5 pages) on the subject, Adaptation Under the Copenhagen Accord, Feb. 2010

Among the key take-aways from the note are the following:

  1. The Accord is retrograde in that it reestablishes a link between adaptation to the adverse effects of climate change and potential impacts of response measures. Given the fact that the causes and timing of these two phenomena can be different, and the groups affected have different vulnerabilities and interests, developing countries had successfully de-coupled the concepts in the Bali Action Plan. While the provisions of Copenhagen are not binding, it may exert substantal influence on future negotiations on the AWG-LCA and AWG-KP;
  2. The reference in paragraph 3 of the Copenhagen Accord to the adaptation challenge faced by “all countries” ignores the principle of common but differentiated responsibilies and respective capabilities underpinning the UNFCCC;
  3. The financing provisions of the Copenhagen Accord are problematic in the context of adaptation action for several reasons, including the absence of a mechanism for determining the mix of public and private funding, an absence of provision for where the or how the money is to be delivered, and perhaps most critically (from my perspective), the absence of a dedicated source of funds. The brief also addresses the hard work ahead to develop the protocols for the Copenhagen Green Climate Fund;
  4. The Accord makes no provision for the development of concrete infrastructure to guide implementation of adaptation actions, including the provision of pertinent technologies;
  5. The emergence of the BASIC group (U.S., China, India, South Africa and Brazil) may pave the way for climate change decisionmaking to being moved to other forums, e.g. the G8, G20 or Major Economies Forum. This may bode badly for particularly vulnerable developing countries who have very little input in such forums. It is critical that the primary decisionmaking should remain under the aegis of the UNFCCC.

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