New report on facilitating adaptation in a new climate agreement

The Global Leadership for Climate Action (GLCA), a task force of former heads of state and government and business and civil society leaders from more than 20 countries, has recently released a report entitled Facilitating an International Agreement on Climate Change: Adaptation to Climate Change. This could be a good student reading on one of the centerpiece issues of the current negotiations for a successor to the Kyoto Protocol. Moreover, it may help to emphasize some broader issues that are germane in any climate change law or policy course, including whether developed countries should have a legal obligation to provide adaptation assistance to developing countries (an abiding issue in current negotiations for a successor to Kyoto) and the interface of adaptation and mitigation responses to broader issues such as development and governance.

 The report provides a good overview of institutional efforts to develop a framework for adapting to climate change, including the provisions of the Bali roadmap. Moreover, it provides some interesting proposals for developing an effective adaptive system for developing countries. This includes:

  • Acknowledging the large uncertainties as to the magnitude, timing and location of climate impacts, adaptation strategies should be based on “upstream” interventions that yield benefits regardless of specific climate-related events. Such strategies could include development of drought-tolerant crop strains, increased storage capacity for freshwater, and improving health infrastructure;
  • Strategies need to be developed to increase the resilience of critical ecosystems. This includes payments for protection of ecosystem services in critical areas and large-scale programs to recover degraded land;
  • Centers for Regional Adapation in Agriculture should be established by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research;
  • Adaptation planning in developing countries needs to move beyond a focus on building infrastructure. It must include an emphasis on c0mmunity-based adaptation initiatives; this will necessarily entail broad reforms, including increased transparency, participatory democracy, and a  commitment to subsidiarity, pushing decisionmaking down to the local level;
  • National Adaptation Plans of Action and Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers need to be updated to include analyses of climate risks and vulnerabilities, priorities for reducing vulnerabilities, and estimates of financing needs;

The report also contains an extensive analysis of the current status of financing of adaptation initiatives in developing countries. It notes that developing countries have received less than 10 per cent of the funds pledged by developed countries for adaptation, with the poorest countries receiving the least help. Among the recommendations of the report to increase funding include the following:

  • Explore new and additional sources of funding, as prescribed for in the Bali Roadmap. The report outlines a number of potential funding sources for adaptation programs, including auctioning of international emissions trading allowances, an international air passenger adaptation levy, and a levy on international shipping;
  • Establishment of a two prong strategy, emphasizing immediate funding of programs to address the needs of developing countries already feeling the impacts of climate change, and a longer term funding mechanism of $10-50 billion annually, with a transparent governance structure, and sources of funding not tied solely to overseas development assistance

In terms of institutions to implement effective adaptation programs, the report supports UNEP’s proposal for a Global Climate Adaptation Network to enhance capacity through technology transfers and knowledge dissemination. The report argues that this would free up the UNFCCC Secretariat to focus on broader policy setting. Additionally, the report recommends that the UN should create a focal point for sharing the expertise of its programs and agencies on issues ranging from water and crop management to insurance and disaster risk reduction.

The proposals in this report are part and parcel of the recommendations from a number of other recent analyses of adaptation; however, it’s a good compendium that would provide students with a good overview on this issue.

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