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Wednesday, December 01, 2021

Define adaptation goal, deliver on pre-2020 promises: BASIC countries

“… developed countries must… initiate, at COP26, deliberations on a formal, transparent and open process for setting a new collective quantified goal on finance under the Paris Agreement…,” a statement from the BASIC countries said.

Written by Amitabh Sinha | Glasgow |
November 11, 2021 7:18:50 am
Banners are displayed in central Glasgow (AP)

Expressing concern at the lack of adequate attention to adaptation efforts, the BASIC countries (Brazil, South Africa, India and China) have asked for operationalization of the Global Goal on Adaptation that is mentioned in the Paris Agreement.

At a meeting at the India delegation office at COP26 (26th session of the Conference of Parties, as the Glasgow conference, is officially called), the BASIC countries also demanded an immediate discussion on setting a new target for climate finance to be made available by the developed countries for the post-2025 period.

“… developed countries must… initiate, at COP26, deliberations on a formal, transparent and open process for setting a new collective quantified goal on finance under the Paris Agreement…,” a statement from the BASIC countries said.

Developed countries are under obligation to provide money and technology to developing countries to help them deal with impacts of climate change. They had promised to raise US$ 100 billion every year from 2020 onwards for this purpose, but one year after the deadline passed, the money has still not been mobilized. Developed countries have now pushed the 2020 deadline to 2023.

The developed countries are also mandated, under the Paris Agreement, to increase the US$ 100 billion amount to a higher sum by 2025. African countries and a group of developing countries including India and China have said the new amount should be at least US$ 1.3 trillion per year. Discussions on deciding this new floor amount is still to start. The BASIC countries have now insisted that this process should start at this COP itself.

Non-availability of promised money is just one of the several things bothering the developing countries. Another one is lack of enough attention to adaptation, including the paucity of money for adaptation efforts.

The world is already facing climate disasters with increasing frequency and intensity, and this is expected to worsen further even if the attempts to hold the global rise in temperatures to within 1.5 degree Celsius from preindustrial times are successful. Adaptation is thus vital, especially in least developed countries and small island states, which happen to be the most vulnerable to impacts of climate change.

A giant puppet walks through the Action Zone inside the venue of the COP26 UN Climate Summit in Glasgow, Scotland, Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021. (AP)

The Paris Agreement of 2015 had talked about the need to have a global goal on adaptation, just like there is a global goal on mitigation – cut greenhouse gas emissions deep enough to ensure that the rise in global temperatures is kept within 2 or 1.5 degree Celsius from pre-industrial times.

But there has been little movement on this front, primarily because of difficulties in setting an adaptation goal. Unlike mitigation efforts that bring global benefits, the benefits from adaptation are local or regional. There is no uniform global criteria against which adaptation targets can be set and measured.

Different approaches have been suggested to describe an adaptation goal, but no consensus has been reached. One of them seeks to define a global adaptation goal in terms of money. For example, developing countries have consistently been demanding that at least 50 per cent of the promised US$ 100 billion per year be earmarked for adaptation. This can be a measurable adaptation goal. Though the US$ 100 billion amount is still to be mobilized, only about 20 per cent of the climate finance that has been made available so far has gone towards adaptation projects. Some other formulations talk about every country preparing and submitting a national adaptation plan. Together, these plans can become an adaptation goal, and progress on each of these plans can be measured and assessed.

The BASIC countries did not identify any particular metric to define the global goal on adaptation. They only want that discussions on defining the adaptation goal must begin quickly.

“Adaptation is not being accorded the balanced and substantive attention they deserve in the UNFCCC process. It is essential to develop a work programme to operationalize the Global Goal on Adaptation,” the BASIC statement said.

The BASIC countries also reminded the developed nations of their unfulfilled promises in the pre-2020 period and stressed that these must be made up for. Many developed countries have not met their emissions reduction targets under the Kyoto Protocol, the precursor to the Paris Agreement that expired last year. Most countries have not delivered on their commitments to provide finance and technology to developing countries.

“…trust among Parties is central to the success of a multilateral process and that climate change can only be successfully addressed through a collective multilateral response. The history of negotiations and the past commitments must not be forgotten or erased. In this spirit, it must be ensured that discussions on pre-2020 action and support are not relegated to the background in this COP,” the BASIC countries said.

“The progress on the pre-2020 agenda should be the key benchmark of success of COP26. The developed countries must honour their pre-2020 commitments regarding mitigation, adaptation and means of implementation, without transferring any burden and responsibility to developing countries. Developed countries are required to take urgent actions to close the pre-2020 implementation gaps by 2023,” they said.

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