Adaptation to climate change and reducing carbon emissions are equally important
Global Leaders, gathered in the new floating office of the Global Center on Adaptation (GCA) in Rotterdam, called for the COP26 Climate Summit to elevate adaptation action onto an equal footing with efforts to cut emissions because of escalating climate emergency. GCA’s High Level Dialogue 'The Adaptation Acceleration Imperative for COP26' was held on 6 September. On the same day, Dutch king Willem-Alexander officially opened the new floating office of GCA.
Battle on two equal fronts
With less than a hundred days to go until the World Climate Summit COP26 in Glasgow, the leaders concluded that the success of the climate summit will be determined by whether, for the first time, climate adaptation is elevated to an equal priority with the mitigation of carbon emissions.
Patrick Verkooijen, CEO of the Global Center on Adaptation, said in his opening remarks: ‘We are fighting a battle on two fronts: we have to fight to slash emissions while investing the same level of energy to adapt to a global climate emergency. Millions of lives and the safety of communities around the world are already at stake.'
The world must accelerate and scale-up its effort to stay within 1.5°C warming. In parallel, adaptation is urgent. Adaptation has not benefited from the same attention, resources, or level of action on the ground as mitigation, leaving communities worldwide exposed to a climate emergency unfolding faster than predicted.
The communique outlines eight steps needed for COP26 to serve as a springboard for large-scale acceleration in adaptation and resilience building. Nations must step up with their adaptation plans in their Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) as part of the Paris Agreement.
The leaders also remind nations to meet the UN-agreed annual finance of 100 billion US dollar for the climate fund. Additionally, the leaders want to see a shift of trillions into adaptation and resilience investments for an ever-bolder effort, promoting innovative financing and unlocking the full potential of the private sector.
Pandemic recovery resources can be used to maximize climate benefits, including considering partial channeling of the 650 billion US dollar of newly allocated International Monetary Fund Special Drawing Rights as potential additional concessional support for building resilience, particularly in poor and climate-vulnerable countries, and small developing states.
President of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Chair of the African Union, Felix-Antoine Tshisekedi noted the collective political will to address the corona pandemic when it peaked. ‘Countries developed stimulus packages, for which over 20 trillion US dollar have been mobilized.’
‘We should be very clear that there is no issue with the Paris Agreement itself’, remarked Ban Ki-moon, 8th Secretary-General of the United Nations and Chair of the Global Center on Adaptation.
‘It has been exactly the framework we needed, if only it could be lived up to’, he said. ‘What we need to do is rebuild confidence and trust to work together under the Paris regime'. 'Countries are ready for new ambitions on adaptation, and they are ready for much scaled up financing for adaptation too. For this, solutions already out there need to be shared and put into place.’
Read the full communique The Adaptation Acceleration Imperative for COP26.