Adaptation, loss and damage has been the dedicated focus of the conference today at COP26. The Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations, Amina Mohammed began the discussion by highlighting the devastating results of climate change so far, “the signs are all around us – floods, drought, heat and catastrophic storms,” “the human toll is devastating – lost lives and livelihoods, displacement and migration and young people losing hope in the future.” She explained that at least 50% of the money pledged to developing countries should go towards helping them adapt to the consequences of climate change.
Countless discouraging and sombre speeches established a melancholic atmosphere. The Prime Minister of Fiji stated that although he appreciates the new propositions that world leaders have committed to, they are “timid and inadequate.” Amina Mohammed also finds the situation unfair and believes that “the burden will fall disproportionately on the poor and vulnerable, who contributed least to this problem.” The former US President Barack Obama goes on to express his disappointment that most nations have failed to be “as ambitious as they need to be” and that it is particularly discouraging to see the leaders of “two of world’s largest emitters China and Russia decline to even attend the proceedings” and their national plans show a “dangerous lack of urgency”.
Despite these statements, the conversation returned to a more optimistic focus, discussing the improvements of the preparation for climate risk and disclosing that 88 countries would be committing to the national adaption plans. The UK announced a pledge of £274 million to reinforce the resilience of vulnerable communities and promote low carbon growth across the Indo-Pacific with the support of the CARA programme (the Climate Action for a Resilient Asia), by which they intend to help 14.4 million people to adapt to climate change. Additionally, the UK is partially responsible for the $232 million that has been dedicated to the Adaptation Fund by 12 countries.
However, as COP President Alok Sharma stated in his opening speech this morning “the spotlight will be on those nations and communities which are most vulnerable to climate change. Those whose voices are too often left unheard.” Unfortunately, it would seem that being unheard is still the case for those who have suffered the consequences of climate change, as the financial commitments that have been made so far were toward prevention and adaptation, rather than loss and damage.
Written and edited by Sophia Axon and Jasmine Ayres