Thu | Oct 18, 2018

Earth Today | Future of Adaptation Fund still unclear after 2017 climate talks

Published:Thursday | November 23, 2017 | 12:00 AMPetre Williams-Raynor

THE FUTURE of the Adaptation Fund (AF), from which Jamaica and other small-island developing states have benefited as a source of climate change financing, remains in question.

This follows the recent global climate talks that ended in Bonn, Germany, where progress was made in the effort to have the fund formally serve the historic Paris Agreement (PA).

That progress was reflected in a decision by parties to the Kyoto Protocol (KP) that it "shall serve the PA subject to and consistent with decisions to be taken at the third part of the first session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (December 2018)".

The KP is an international agreement, linked to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which commits parties to international binding greenhouse emission reduction targets. It was also designed to help countries adapt to the adverse impacts of global warming, which is fuelled by GHG emissions, and so saw the establishment of the Adaptation Fund.

However, the road to acceptance by the decision-making body for the PA to extend the life of the AF beyond 2020 when the KP expires could be rocky.

"While they have completed one step by having a formal adoption by the KP parties for that to happen, until the PA parties decide that should happen, it is still not final," said Clifford Mahlung, a seasoned climate change negotiator for Jamaica.

"It is going to be a difficult decision because of opposition by some parties with respect to bodies or mechanisms that were created under the KP. The AF was established under the KP and fundamentally the United States position, (for example), and it is a bipartisan position, is that they will have nothing to do with the KP ... It could be a difficult consideration for them to accept, given their historical opposition," he told The Gleaner.

At the same time, he said an argument could potentially be made for the Green Climate Fund (GCF) to assume the role of the AF.

"One of the criticisms to the argument of absorbing the AF into the GCF is that the AF provides easier access to funding ... However, the GCF, in recent times, has introduced a simplified approval process for projects up to US$10 million. So they are actually moving to ensure that there is easier access to developing countries to certain types of funds. The window for that is US$10 million, which is the same for the AF," he said.

Still, despite the journey to be travelled, Mahlung said the ultimate destination is for "adequate financing" to be provided, "particularly for small-island developing states and least developed countries", and "that the access to those funds should not be burdensome".