Adapting to Climate Change

“It has never rained like this before. It has always rained, but before, it was timely. Now it is untimely – it is hot when it used to be cold, and raining when it used to be hot. It is because our practices have changed and we have unbalanced things.

Everywhere is flooded. Crops are destroyed. Now, with the floods everyone is falling ill, there is disease everywhere.”
Dharahin Devi, Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh

Visit our website to find out how we are supporting people like Dharahin to adapt to climate change.

Put People First

Find Your Feet is in the platform for ‘Put People First – march for Jobs, Justice and Climate’ a massive mobilisation that will be taking place on 28th March.

This important mobilisation, which will include development agencies, unions, domestic poverty, faith and environmental groups, will be telling world leaders attending the G20 summit – happening just five days afterwards on 2 April – that only just, fair and sustainable policies can lead the world out of recession.

The platform members believe that tinkering at the margins of a broken economy will not get us out of the current overlapping crisis of massive private debt, banking meltdown, rising poverty and unemployment and looming climate chaos. It will therefore outline a number of practical steps that the UK government should take to signal its readiness to lead a process of fundamental change to put people first.

Global injustice and climate change

As Dharahin’s story shows it’s the most vulnerable people who are most affected by climate change. Floods and droughts mean that crops are being destroyed and that local agricultural knowledge about when to sow and when to plant is becoming redundant. Meanwhile the upsurge in malaria and cholera due to increased warming and precipitation means that women are having to spend more time tending to the sick and less time working in their fields.

However developing countries just don’t have the economic resources necessary to finance adaptation. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fourth Assessment Report says the cost of adaptation to climate change in Africa could be as much as 5 to 10 per cent of the entire continent’s GDP.

One of the key demands of the Put People First platform therefore is that, as a matter of global justice, developed countries commit to “sufficient, substantial, verifiable new resource transfer from North to South, additional to Overseas Development Assistance (ODA), to support resilient adaptation and sustainable development in poor countries.”

Funding adaptation to climate change

Developed nations have generated a number of programmes and instruments to support developing countries adapt to climate change. The 2008 G8 Declaration on Energy Security and Climate Change, for example, commits the leading industrial nations to combating climate change – with the highest emitters and the richest countries contributing the most. (International Institute for Environment and Development)

However G8 countries have so far contributed very limited funding to adaptation in developing countries. In the light of the current financial crisis and given that none of the G8 countries have yet achieved their ODA commitments (0.7% GDP) we need to make it clearer than ever that, if people in developing countries are not going to be steamrollered by climate change, adaptation pledges need to be met.

Which adaptation strategies?

In an interesting article in NI 419 ‘Countdown to Copenhagen – What’s on the table’ Danny Chivers looks at some of the main proposals for dealing with climate change that will be discussed at Copenhagen. In relation to mitigation and adaptation funds he queries the proposal that the wealthiest countries put the climate change support money they’ve been promising for years into a central fund for spending on low-carbon technology, emission reductions and climate change adaptation in the Global South.

“A central fund could take the decision even further away from those affected by it. Will the funds be spent on effective projects such as protecting the land rights of indigenous forest people, or on expensive distractions like nuclear power?”

Meanwhile people in developing countries around the world are already finding ways of coping that are locally relevant and that use inexpensive, appropriate technologies. “This kind of experience, gained at the grassroots, boosts resilience as no top-down initiative can.” (IIED)

Any talks around funding for climate change adaptation therefore need to ensure that an adequate space is created for alternative, community-led ideas and strategies to be heard.

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