Climate change adaptation remains a dishearteningly familiar storyUnited Kingdom
Failures of financing and thought continue to dog efforts to prepare vulnerable communities for climate change
At the House of Commons this week, the all-party parliamentary group on climate change gathered to view an exhibition showcasing the Community Based Adaptation (CBA) tools developed by the NGO Practical Action in partnership with the vulnerable communities with whom they work.
At the community level, climate change impacts upon food and water security, livelihoods and any chance largely pastoral or subsistent farming communities have of working their way out of poverty. The images showed the coalface of climate change work, focusing on places where changes in rainfall pattern are inseparable from wider development issues and poverty.
The exhibition tells a positive story. It shows how, in Bangladesh, the measures introduced to combat the increasingly destructive monsoon seasons include "floating gardens" and the use of ducks as livestock. It also depicts scenes from Kenya, where camels have replaced cattle as severe water shortages and reduced biodiversity make the terrain too difficult for cows.
But consider the wider context, and the reality is more disheartening.
The international climate talks in Copenhagen were a disaster in diplomacy and developing country engagement. Self interest and sabotage were the order of the day and, as a result, the world's poorest continue to bear the brunt of climate change effects. As a Practical Action briefing paper on adaptation describes, the rural poor in developing countries are the hardest hit by climate change because they "are the most reliant on their climate and ecosystems, are the most susceptible and ill-equipped to deal with extreme weather events, and [because they] are already living in poverty".
The lack of political consensus – which precedes financial commitment – is debilitating, says the NGO, which claims that $100bn a year is needed for adaptation alone from 2020 and "a fair and binding international climate deal".
At this time, world leaders have pledged only $1.5bn to finance adaptation and of that a meagre $190m has been given. None of this amount is additional to aid and most of it is funded through the World Bank, which – as Rachel Berger, Practical Action's climate change adviser, explained at a parliamentary meeting held before the exhibition launch – is distrusted by developing countries for being donor driven. It also funds fossil fuel development.
However, Andrew Simms of the New Economics Foundation, said money wasn't the issue. "The question is not that there is no money for climate change. That is simply not true. It is just a question of priorities and targeting."
So until adaptation becomes a priority, funding is simply an exercise in creative accounting: a reallocation of existing aid budgets. In the face of broken aid commitments, the prospect of securing additional funding to finance adaptation looks fairly bleak.
An important concern for all the speakers at the parliamentary meeting was that governments – in both developed and developing countries – are not making important links between: climate change and development; climate change and the geopolitics of water; and climate crisis and economic crisis.
If the projected future of a world four degrees hotter is accurate, then water and food scarcity and extreme weather events will further exacerbate vulnerability in poor countries, worsening political and economic instability in fragile states and leading to more civil unrest.
Yet at the Commonwealth heads of government meeting in Uganda in 2009, climate change was not discussed. According to Chris Tydeman, an independent consultant on European policy, it is expected at least to "get a mention" at the upcoming Africa-EU summit. But have those links been made?
The meeting also heard that joined-up thinking means placing at the centre of planning the people whom mitigation strategies are supposed to help. Parachuting in technology has not delivered development in rural communities, nor is it an effective strategy to dealing with climate change. Rather empowering the community to find their own solutions to the problems they face mean not only that those solutions will be effective and relevant but they will also be sustainable as both the know how to deliver them and the raw materials come from within the community.
The message from the event was simple: it is time for policy makers to think harder about these communities when they decide to put money towards adaptation. It is indisputable that people in the developing world have started to do their bit to ensure they are prepared for climate change and to minimise the impact of the damage already done.
As Practical Action put it: commitments to climate change may stall, but the consequences of inaction will not. The effects are being seen with increasing frequency and ferocity.
El contenido de las noticias que se presentan en esta sección es responsabilidad directa de las agencias emisoras de noticias y no necesariamente reflejan la posición del Gobierno de México en este u otros temas relacionados.
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