Ensuring an equitable and holistic approach to implementing the Paris Agreement will be central to driving effective climate action. This will require finance commitments which prioritise the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable communities facing the greatest climate impacts, and implementation plans that adhere to the principles of Technology Justice.
COP23 Bonn 6-17 November
Loss and damage
Achieving climate justice requires commitments from all stakeholders to address climate-related losses and damages, which are often faced by those least responsible for the causes of climate change. Loss and damage must be treated as a separate, complementary component to adaptation and mitigation efforts. The implementation of the Paris agreement must offer affected people the finance, technology, and capacity to give them a viable future.
In support of this, Practical Action engages in global stakeholder networks to influence the Executive Committee of the Warsaw International Mechanism to incorporate practical guidelines on responding to loss and damage under the Paris Agreement; particularly securing adequate financing to respond to the growing loss and damage being experienced by the poorest and most climate vulnerable.
There remain challenges around adaptation; particularly in universal clarity around what constitutes adaptation, how it can be articulated and which national agencies are responsible for leading adaptive actions. This creates problems in adaptation coordination, planning and prioritisation. In Nepal, as part of the National Adaptation Plan (NAP), Practical Action is supporting a coordinated and holistic approach to the NAP, convening dialogues across 7 key ministries and linking existing work on local adaptation action plans up to the national scale.
Climate technology is a crucial, but often overlooked, component of the Means of Implementation (MOI) of the Paris Agreement; it is central to understanding, communicating and responding to climate risk.
However, technologies are not neutral in their impacts on the environment or people. We must ensure that a range of stakeholders is involved in planning for climate action, and that we employ climate justice principles to ensure the technology needs of the poor are central to implementation planning. These populations often have the lowest capacity to adapt despite their contributing least to the problem. Adopting a 'precautionary principle' to climate technology development is also vital for ensuring that risks are not exacerbated by technologies which aim to tackle the symptoms, rather than the causes, of climate change. Appropriate and just use of technology is thus central to the effective delivery of the Paris Agreement for mitigation, adaptation and loss and damage.
What does this mean in practice?
This means that decentralised energy systems are prioritised over grid-based systems, so that energy-poor communities can access clean energy technologies which are faster, more affordable and more environmentally friendly than grid-centric solutions. Decentralised energy systems can also support local economic development which helps communities to build resilience to rapidly bounce back from climate-induced shocks and stresses.
It also means that agricultural systems must focus on sustainable practices which support resource-poor smallholder farmers to boost productivity and incomes, build resilience to slow-onset impacts and climate-induced shocks, while minimizing the emissions from the sector. Getting agriculture right for global nutrition, food and livelihood security in a way that doesn’t exacerbate the climate change problem is a key challenge central to the success of the Paris Agreement.
To this end, Practical Action in Peru has worked with smallholder coffee farmers to implement sustainable agroforestry practices to improve coffee production, and reduce deforestation. This not only supports farmers to contribute to Peru's emissions reduction targets, but also empowers them to better adapt to the climatic and environmental challenges they are facing as a consequence of global warming.
The establishment of an initiative for loss and damage finance with a two year work plan identifying sources of revenue adequate to the scale of the problem in a predictable and fair way. This must look beyond existing climate finance and should explore innovative sources based on the polluter pays principle.
Ensuring that 'soft' technologies and technical knowledge are also considered in climate policies is fundamental for successful and sustainable project delivery and resilience-building. Without the necessary knowledge, skills and capacities to install, manage, maintain, and upgrade technologies, the climate, resilience and development benefits will be severely limited. Recognising the transformational impact of appropriate technology for the poorest and most at climate risk, Practical Action has announced a call for Technology Justice. As part of our engagement with the Technology Executive Committee of the UNFCCC, we are advocating for a horizon scan to identify technologies that have the potential to most benefit the poorest and climate-vulnerable.
Without appropriate climate finance, climate action in most of the adversely affected countries is impossible; mobilisation of the $100bn Roadmap therefore needs to be urgently accelerated to deliver the means to achieve impact in vulnerable communities. Conservative estimates indicate that globally, $300bn is spent each year on fossil fuels subsidies, wouldn’t this money be better spent on climate action?
In reaching the collective goal of $100bn in climate financing, global donors must ensure that there is an appropriate balance of different forms of financing available for the range of adaptation and mitigation activities necessary to achieve the Paris Agreement goals. However, current estimates suggest that just 27% of Green Climate Fund (GCF) finance is directed towards adaptation, with the balance still skewed towards mitigation. Moreover, the vast majority of mitigation financing is received by middle income countries (MICs), not the least development countries (LDCs). Practical Action asks: is this the best use of limited climate finance?
Practical Action is an active partner in the UK Carbon Levy Group, calling for a polluter’s tax on the fossil fuel industry to pay for the damage they have caused and for vulnerable countries worst affected to receive the financial assistance they so urgently need. This ‘Carbon Damages Tax’ would generate additional resources that are urgently needed, in a way that is supplementary to existing climate finance streams.
Most climate finance is still mobilised through existing funding modalities, with, for example, the majority of GCF funding being delivered through multilateral development banks and traditional finance mechanisms. A recent review of GCF disbursement found that just 7% of the $2.2 billion in funds already allocated to projects passes through national or sub-national developing country institutions (known as 'direct access'); while over half of allocated GCF funding is managed by just three international partners - the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, United Nations Development Programme and European Investment Bank. Relying less on traditional mechanisms, and devising financing modalities that enhance local finance is essential to ensuring more money reaches those who need it the most.