Fri | Sep 24, 2021

Earth Today | Scientist champions finance flows for regional adaptation

Published:Thursday | July 29, 2021 | 12:05 AM

RESPECTED JAMAICAN and Caribbean scientist Professor Michael Taylor has flagged the need for a relook at finance flows which currently seem to favour mitigation over adaptation to a changing climate.

The need, he insisted, is significant for the Caribbean region, whose small island developing states (SIDS) are especially vulnerable to climate impacts, such as extreme hurricane and other events that require urgent interventions to reduce infrastructure damage and the loss of lives and livelihoods.

“There is undoubtedly a need to emphasise mitigation, since it is the only way to achieve 1.5 or under two degrees Celsius. Every additional degree of warming is further bad news for the Caribbean,” the physicist admitted.

“However, to do so and not equally consider adaptation is a mistake. On the one hand, mitigation funding has an inherent bias towards resourcing and almost incentivising major emitters (to reduce). So, if done at the expense of those most impacted by those emissions, that is, the most vulnerable countries like the Caribbean, there is a sense of perpetuated inequity,” he added.

Further, Taylor said, “as long championed by the Caribbean, even present climate requires significant adaption, as will even a 1.5 degree future”.

“Adaptation funding must be equally prioritised and targeted to enable those already most impacted to have a viable chance today and going into the future,” he maintained.

Taylor, also the dean of the Faculty of Science and Technology at The University of the West Indies, was a lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s special report on the impacts of 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways.

That report, which is held to have effectively made the case for the best efforts to cap global temperature increase at 1.5 degrees Celsius, certainly among SIDs, was undertaken in the context of strengthening the international response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty as set out in the Paris Agreement.

The Paris Agreement sees countries committing to “holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, recognising that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change”.

It further commits them to “making finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development”, and to the “increasing the ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change”, while fostering “climate resilience and low greenhouse gas emissions development, in a manner that does not threaten food production”.

Taylor’s comments, meanwhile, come in the wake of a new paper, published last week, which sets out the demands of developing countries ahead of the upcoming climate talks in the United Kingdom. That paper, titled COP26: Delivering the Paris Agreement, notes, among other things, the need to prioritise adaptation.

“With climate impacts increasing, provisions to help the most vulnerable adapt, including through increased financial support, need to be strengthened,” the paper said, while also calling on developed countries to satisfy their decade-old promise to make available to developing nations US$100 billion a year up to 2020.

“The promises made in Copenhagen in 2009 and again in the Paris Agreement are unequivocal, and must be delivered: at least $100b per year by 2020, up to 2024, with a concrete delivery plan, with at least half going to adaptation, with increased annual sums from 2025,” it said.

Included in the list of demands are accelerated emissions reduction from the developed world, towards the realisation of the 1.5 goal; attention to loss and damage, given the developed world’s failure to adequately reduce their emissions, “resulting in losses and damage for the most vulnerable”; as well as expedited development of protocols on “transparency, carbon trading and common timeframes for accelerating action, in a way that safeguards development and nature”.