Adaptation, a cooling consensus ahead of Paris 2015
11 December 2014, Africa Green Media
By Fidelis Zvomuya in Lima Peru
In an effort to make sure adaptation is implemented within the southern African region, the Food Agriculture Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) and West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research and Development (CORAF/WECARD) commissioned three studies reviewing climate change impacts on agricultural, health and urban sectors.
Evidence from studies (FANRPAN) and (CORAF/WECARD), highlight that while there is unequivocal evidence that the climate is changing, there is a lot of uncertainty regarding the pace and extent of change and its impacts on different sub-regions, sectors, nations, and communities.
Evidence from the studies reveal that this uncertainty makes policy decisions more complex and magnifies the need for Africa to build its knowledge and analytical base as well as strengthening the capacity of country and regional institutions to address issues related to climate change.
The reviews revealed several research and policy gaps that if addressed could enhance climate change adaptation processes at different levels in Southern Africa.
Lack of data and empirical studies to inform budgetary processes for adaptation was identified as one of the key research gaps affecting agriculture.
According to Dr Amis who was part of the research team, there was limited evidence on quantification of the costs of adaptation processes for specific communities.
“Operationalisation of adaptation action plans is therefore in itself a major challenge, and is likely to be constrained by poor justification of both actions and budgets,” he added.
According to the Adaptation Gap report, published by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) the costs of adapting to climate change are likely to be two or three times higher than previous estimates.The UNEP report adds that even if the world hits its goal of limiting temperature rise to 2C, costs are set to reach US$250-500 billion in 2050.
The UNEP report, drawn together by 29 experts from around the world, was published on day five of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 20th Conference of the Parties (COP 20) being held in the Peruvian capital of Lima.
Negotiators are laying the groundwork for a global climate deal in Paris next year and the status of adaptation has been a subject of fierce debate.
On the whole, developed nations want to focus on cutting greenhouse gas emissions, while developingstates say adaptation and climate finance should be on an equal footing.
While no part of the world is immune from the heatwaves, flooding and storms expected to increase with rising temperatures, developing economies are particularly vulnerable.
The call by developing countries is in line with the FANRPAN/CORAF/WECARD reviews that also called for the establishment of institutional mechanisms and technical capacities for bridging current gaps between regional policy formulation and action planning and implementation at the national and sub-national levels.
Bangladeshi adaptation expert Saleemul Huq, who is part of the steering committee for the report, said: “Hopefully here in Lima, we will get a resolution on whether we should have an adaptation goal and if so what it should look like.”
And for such to happen Hug said the creation of regional policies should be part of the Paris 2015 climate change deal.
“That could include agreements on technology and knowledge sharing as well as financial support.. Under business as usual, which is expected to lead to 3.7C warming, the figure could reach double the worst case estimate,” he added.
Presenting the report, UNEP chief Achim Steiner said the report provides a powerful reminder that the potential cost of inaction carries a real price tag. “The escalating cost implications on communities, cities, business, taxpayers and national budgets merit closer attention as they translate into real economic consequences.”
Public funding for adaptation projects such as sea walls and drought-resistant crops are increasing, with an estimated US$24.6 billion spent in 2012/13. This is mainly delivered through development assistance, said report co-author Anne Olhoff.
“In the short term, this would mean there is not a significant gap but the adaptation and funding needs increase very rapidly towards the end of the 2020s and into the 30s and 40s” Olhoff said.
Costs are set to reach US$150 billion a year 2025-30 and US$250-500bn by 2050, assuming action is taken to curb emissions and limit warming to 2C.
These supersede estimates of US$70-100 billion a year in the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessment, which Olhoff said did not cover all areas and risks.
It is difficult to distinguish between different temperature scenarios, added co-author Florent Baarsch, but higher temperatures mean higher costs.“Beyond 2050, the gap between a 2C scenario and a 4C scenario changes much faster,” Olhoff said.
Rich countries have promised to mobilise US$100 billion by 2020 for adaptation and sustainable development.
But China’s lead negotiator, Su Wei, told journalists on Thursday “we don’t have any clear roadmap” towards that target.
The US$10 billion raised under the Green Climate Fund is “far from adequate”, he said.
Jennifer Morgan, Global Director of the Climate Program, World Resources Institute said Lima presents a perfect opportunity for Africa and other developing countries to be ambitious, to set ambitious, scientifically and technically informed targets in addressing the effects of climate change.
“Combating climate change isn’t just about reducing carbon emissions. This was part of the call by India this week during this year’s event,” she added.
In Lima, negotiators have a short window of opportunity to cut through a tangled knot of potential issues in order to chart a clear path to an agreement that accelerates adaptation action in Paris.
Adaptation initiatives are increasing globally, and current activities are as diverse as the countries involved. The 2015 agreement must accelerate and scale up such activity, and do so in a way that gives countries and their citizens the flexibility needed to tailor adaptation efforts to their own contexts.