With 2015 to 2019 as the hottest five-year period ever measured and climate impacts getting ever more severe and frequent, the immediate and determined implementation of the goals mutually agreed on in the Paris Agreement is more urgent than ever.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres has therefore invited governments, the private sector, civil society and international organisations to the UN Climate Action Summit 2019 starting today in New York. Focussing on ambitious solutions and announcements of more ambitious climate targets, the summit is meant to be the starting signal for a “race to the top”.
Germanwatch supports a “Call for Action on Adaptation and Resilience” lead by the UK and Egypt and supported by numerous states and (civil society) organisations. Together, we call for progress in dealing with climate impacts through better adaptation and strengthened resilience. This includes the urgent increase of availability of finance, putting adaptation and resilience at the centre of decision-making and immediate action to support the most vulnerable among others in dealing with the challenges posed by climate-induced loss and damage through upscaling their “capacity to prepare and respond to disasters through increased access to mechanisms that enable early action”.
Germanwatch is welcoming the Call for pointing out the need of “equal and increased urgency to adapt to climate impacts and build resilience for the future”, but also for referencing that “the scale of expected impacts is such that business as usual is no longer an option”.
While Germanwatch fully supports the Call for Action, we want to put additional emphasis on the following aspects:
- Climate impacts are a fundamental threat to the human rights of affected people, especially the most vulnerable. All measures – reactive or preventive – should therefore (1) identify and target the most vulnerable, (2) enable their participation and value their knowledge in planning and decision-making processes and (3) create possibilities for complaint in the event of unintended consequences.
- Public funds should not only be significantly increased for adaptation to climate change, but additional funds to deal with climate induced loss and damage should also be provided.
- We highly appreciate the initiative by UN Secretary-General Guterres, and want to emphasise the crucial role of the UNFCCC regime and its bodies focussing on adaptation and loss and damage. At the same coherence between different (UN-)processes and institutions and the use of synergies are of particular importance.
A “Call for Action on Adaptation and Resilience” is necessary. It is hard to fathom that increasing climate impacts threaten the lives of people, especially in the Global South, while at the same time the urgency to act does not seem to be recognised.
Scientists of the “Earth League” have recently summarised the threat we are facing: Global average temperature continues to rise, 2018 brought the highest greenhouse gas emissions ever recorded. With every tenth of degree of warming, the probability of reaching tipping points in the Earth's system increases. Just one example: Already at 1.5°C warming, the Arctic summer ice could be lost – with unpredictable, non-linear global consequences. In general, even at 1.5°C warming, possibilities and capacities for dealing with these environmental changes dwindle.
At the same time the world is not on a 1.5°C-, but rather a (at least) 3°C-pathway. The fact that the consequences of climate change have so far been rather under- than overestimated by scientists should give cause for an additional “Call for Action”.
Existing response or prevention measures and approaches are helpful, but many of the latter are only tailored to the status quo. In sharp contrast, the situation calls for fundamentally different solutions and preparation. While a massive reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is crucial, it has to be accompanied by a serious approach to tackle the unavoidable consequences and to provide substantial technological, capacity-building and financial support to the countries and people affected the most. We expect the UN Climate Action Summit to deliver a substantial contribution in that regard.
The blog post was written as part of the project "Klimapolitische Agenda 2019/20: Die Zivilgesellschaft für Ambition, Umsetzung und den Schutz der besonders Verletzlichen stärken", funded by Brot für die Welt.
 See Call for Action on Adaptation and Resilience: https://www.adaptation-undp.org/sites/default/files/uploaded-images/call_for_action_on_adaptation_and_resilience_cas_0.pdf