- The first draft text on the Global Goal on Adaptation was released on December 10 and proposes seven target areas for climate adaptation by 2030. Talks on adaptation have remained deadlocked since the COP28 climate conference began.
- However, experts criticise the adaptation text for its weakness in financing adaptation needs and recognising the historical responsibilities of polluters.
- The Global Goal on Adaptation, established with the 2015 Paris Agreement, aims to enhance adaptive capacity, strengthen resilience and reduce vulnerability to climate change.
Adapting to the effects of climate change is hugely challenging for vulnerable countries and communities, especially as gaps in implementation and finance to build climate resilience widen. But what is proving to be even harder is reaching a consensus on what a universal goal on climate adaptation should look like.
On the morning of December 10, two days before the 28th climate Conference of Parties (COP28) is slated to end, the first draft text on the Global Goal on Adaptation (GGA) was released. The text was released two days after the COP28 President convened ministerial pairings to nudge parties into agreement. Ministers Jennifer McAllister from Australia and Maisa Rojas from Chile were given the responsibility to coordinate and streamline the draft text when parties couldn’t agree on one themselves. Established with the Paris Agreement in 2015, the GGA aims at enhancing adaptive capacity, strengthening resilience and reducing vulnerability to climate change.
Talks on adaptation have remained deadlocked since the conference began, particularly on the issues relating to metrics, finance and the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities that are written into the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). An official in the Indian delegation, who did not wish to be named, said India wanted to see stronger language on finance and the means of implementing the goal. “Several developing parties are in agreement that the principles of the Convention cannot be excluded, and that there should be a greater emphasis on developed country parties to pay,” the official said.
At a press conference on Sunday, December 10, COP28 President Sultan Al Jaber said he wanted parties to show “flexibility.” “The time has come for all parties to constructively engage; I want everyone to show flexibility,” Al Jaber said, adding, “We need to come to terms of sources of finance and support for adaptation finance and a just transition. I will keep the pressure on the global goal of adaptation.”
The text proposes seven target areas to improve adaptation measures to be achieved by 2030. These include reducing climate-induced water scarcity and enhancing climate resilience to water-related hazards, attaining climate-resilient food, agricultural production and supply and distribution of food, strengthening resilience against climate-related health impacts, reducing climate impacts on ecosystems while accelerating the use of nature-based solutions, increasing the resilience of infrastructure and human settlements to climate impacts, reducing poverty and livelihood vulnerability in areas with high climate risk and protecting cultural heritage from the impacts of climate-related risks.
By 2025, the text proposes countries carry out impact, vulnerability and risk assessment plans as well as draw up national adaptation plans. By 2027, it proposes parties establish multi-hazard early warning systems and climate information services for risk reduction, and by 2030, they make progress on their goals and establish ways to monitor and evaluate progress made.
“The problem is that some of these adaptation targets are more mitigation-centric, such as on agricultural production and supply chains. These targets should be country-driven and nationally determined,” the Indian official said. “If adaptation targets are made to be more mitigation-centric, then that could have an impact on funding, too.”
Experts say the text is weak on financing adaptation needs and recognising the historical responsibility of polluters to support adaptation. “The text talks about increasing adaptation finance flows, the importance of concessional loans and grants, but doesn’t talk about how this will be achieved,” said Arun Krishnan, programme manager at Climate Policy Initiative, a climate finance think tank.
The text merely urges developed country parties to double their contributions towards adaptation finance by 2025 while inviting other parties to contribute on a voluntary basis. It also does not outline how funds for adaptation should be raised after 2025.
“Doubling adaptation finance is really the minimum ask because the baseline is already too low and not based on the actual needs on the ground,” said Brandon Wu, director of Policy and Campaigns at Action Aid. Doubling adaptation finance could mean mobilising a doubling to between $14.2 billion and $40.6 billion by 2025, the UNFCCC’s Standing Committee on Finance says.
Several developed countries had pledged to double their adaptation finance at COP26 in Glasgow, but funds for climate adaptation dropped last year by 4%. The U.N.’s Adaptation Gap report estimates funding needs now stand between $194 billion and $366 billion per year, which is 10 to 18 times more than current adaptation finance flows. The UNFCCC’s Adaptation Fund has received just a fraction of this – $1.3 billion – from 26 countries, according to the Climate Fund Pledge Tracker.
Another contentious issue is the inclusion of the equity principle, which offers three “options.” One is to recognise, “in particular,” the principle of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities “in the light of different national circumstances.” The second one more generically recalls “relevant provisions and principles of the Convention and the Paris Agreement.” The third drops both options altogether.
“The U.S. has been really strong about pushing against any reference to the principles of the U.N. Convention because they know that that is read as being about equity. We would have to see what happens,” said Wu.
Parties are in the process of making their submissions, after which a second negotiated draft text is expected. A final version of the text will be adopted at the conclusion of the COP28.
This story was produced as part of the 2023 Climate Change Media Partnership, a journalism fellowship organised by Internews’ Earth Journalism Network and the Stanley Center for Peace and Security.
Banner image: Talks on adaptation have remained deadlocked since the COP28 climate conference began. The first draft text on the Global Goal on Adaptation was released on December 10 and proposes seven target areas for climate adaptation by 2030. Photo by Simrin Sirur/Mongabay.