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COP26: Adaptation, Loss and Damage Day - experts comment

Dr Celine Tan, Reader in Law, said: "The commitment to adaptation finance is timely and welcomed. However, we need to ensure that the terms of finance meet the needs of the communities affected by climate change. Finance needs to be equitable, accessible and sustainable. Saddling countries with loans not grants and delivering finance thorough less accountable and less predictable private finance initiatives instead of long-term public finance will exacerbate the climate crisis in many countries not alleviate it.

"Climate finance should also be located within a broader discussion of the structure of global economic relations, including trade, finance and investment regimes, that continue to marginalise developing countries and prioritise the interests of major economies, notably western industrialised states who have been primarily responsible for the climate crisis today.

"Developing countries cannot deal with the climate crisis unless we also deal with the unequal terms of global trade, international investment regimes that protects the rights and property of foreign investors over the public interest of communities and host state regulatory and policy autonomy and global intellectual property laws that prevent transfer of clean and green technology. Developing countries are also facing a post-pandemic sovereign debt crisis and an international financial architecture that remains poorly regulated and lacking in effective mechanisms to deal with both chronic and temporary debt crises. A focus on climate and development needs to be located within these broader considerations."

  • Read Dr Tan's comment on the International Development Committee report, published on 26 October.

Professor Keith Hyams of PAIS said: "Communities on the frontline of the climate crisis are already feeling its effects – island states inundated by sea water, communities destroyed by hurricanes, food insecurity, droughts, deadly heatwaves. Existing finance is woefully inadequate compared to what is needed, and since much of it takes the form of loans, will further indebt already struggling economies. The UK has offered just £300 million, a fraction of the UK’s estimated $5.87 billion fair share of the $100 billion goal, to which the world committed in Copenhagen in 2009. And it’s not just the numbers that are a problem – even what’s available is very much geared towards technical solutions that fail to reach the most vulnerable. Successful adaptation requires the involvement of grassroots organisations who understand local contexts and needs, but for the most part they are unable to access bureaucratic climate finance. Until climate justice is put at the core of a global approach to adaptation and loss and damage, we should remain very sceptical of what it will achieve."

Dr Morten Fibieger Byskov said: “Successful adaptation to climate change cannot be separated from larger development goals and efforts to address global inequalities and injustices. Vulnerabilities to climate change are generated, underpinned, exacerbated, and reproduced by structural socioeconomic inequalities and democratic injustices. These include the lack of necessary rights, such as land ownership; poor distribution of goods and resources, such as food, water, and energy; inadequate representation and recognition of local experiences; and the lack of opportunities for building resilience through education and alternative livelihood possibilities. in order to achieve successful attention needs to be paid to the structural barriers that hinder the building of resilience and adaptive capacities among, especially poor, communities.

"It also needs to be recognised that climate change is already a reality that many poor communities, especially in low- and middle-income countries, are living with in their daily lives. These communities have little responsibility for bringing about climate change and few opportunities for building up their resilience and adaptive capacities. It is therefore of utmost importance to scale up adaptation assistance and close the adaptation gap, which is caused by the fact that only a fraction of climate financing is dedicated to adaptation and resilience. We need richer countries, who have benefitted from historical emissions and are less vulnerable to climate change, to step up their efforts to ensure fair and equitable access to opportunities for adaptation and resilience.”

“The efforts to close the adaptation gap are most welcome. However, it is not enough to throw money at the problem - it must be ensured that the money is used to implement sensible initiatives to address the socioeconomic inequalities that create and exacerbate climate vulnerabilities and undermine adaptive capacities.”

8 November 2021


Sheila Kiggins

Media Relations Manager

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