Monday, December 10, 2012

Climate adaptation: saviour or false hope?

Ben Castle in the New Internationalist blog: ...In recent years, adaptation has become a key focus of international climate change negotiations. Once a fringe issue, it is now at the centre of the climate debate. The pledge by developed countries to raise $100 billion in climate finance per year by 2020 (with much of this for adaptation in developing countries) was one of the few positives to come out of the much derided Copenhagen COP meeting in 2009. Much of this year’s negotiations in Doha have also been focused on the question of funding.

On the one hand this could be seen as an encouraging sign that the COP process may yet deliver some tangible results for those most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. A couple of weeks ago I reported from farming communities in the mountains of Bolivia, where climate change is already a reality. Such communities urgently need support to help them adapt to the changes that are underway. Yet many Bolivian civil society groups remain unconvinced that a growing focus on adaptation within international negotiations offers much reason for optimism.

For activists such as Martin Vilela from the Bolivian Climate Change Platform the pledges of adaptation support are all too often ‘empty promises’. He doubts that significant resources will ever arrive and says that the ambiguity of the $100 billion figure ‘does not offer any kind of clear commitment (on adaptation financing)’. Martin points to the way developed countries are already trying to ‘reduce expectations’ and are blaming the economic crisis for not being able to provide more funds. Recent research by IIED seems to support Martin’s reservations, showing that adaptation finance has been inadequate to date, with many donors simply relabelling pre-existing aid as climate finance – so it is not in fact ‘new and additional’, as was promised at Copenhagen....

A rainbow in the Faroe Islands, shot by Erik Christensen, Porkeri, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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