31 October 2021

Here's why adaptation should be prioritized on the COP26 agenda

Dr. Helen Beddow

By Dr. Helen Beddow

Here's why adaptation should be prioritized on the COP26 agenda

COP26 is finally here, and one thing that is crystal clear is that climate action needs to happen, now. According to the IPCC, we have ten years to cut emissions by 50% or we risk missing that all important 1.5℃ limit on increases in global temperature. As decision-makers gather in Glasgow, the world is watching to see if the 191 parties that signed the Paris Agreement are prepared to commit to and deliver on the actions we need to take now to prevent this from happening.

But while Net Zero is essential, decarbonization is not enough to tackle climate change on it’s own. Even if we were to reach Net Zero tomorrow, this would not reverse the intensification of today’s extreme weather events. We need to see urgent action and real, tangible commitments on adaptation, so that everyone can understand how to adapt with climate change and build resilience into their strategy.

Our founder and CEO, Iggy Bassi, is in Glasgow to bring attention to some fundamental topics that we need to see at the centre of conversation on climate action. Before heading up to Glasgow he outlined the key things we hope to see come out of COP26 in the video below. As Iggy says, “extreme weather and climate don’t cause disasters, vulnerability does”. Below the video we outline some of the key outcomes we need to see from COP26 to build the pathway to climate resilience.

It’s time to bring adaptation into the conversation

Top of the agenda is bringing adaptation to the forefront of everyone’s mind. Delivering on Net Zero commitments is vital for future climate stability, but we have to separate climate stability from climate resilience. Climate impacts over the coming decades are already locked in. To deliver on the Paris Agreement, and the UN Sustainable Development Goal on Climate Action, parties need to agree on adaptation commitments with targets, success metrics and clear guidance on how integrated mitigation and adaptation strategies will be implemented. Preparedness for the physical impacts of climate change is as essential as Net Zero.

Organizations need a plan to adapt with climate change

The implications of climate impacts for our financial system are enormous. Business-as-usual emissions scenario, often cited as the worst case scenario, could wipe out $23 trillion from the global economy. The Cervest 2021 Climate Intelligence Outlook survey found that while 88% of businesses surveyed reported experiencing the impact of extreme weather events in the last five years, only 37% have plans in place to adapt with climate change. Real leadership on adaptation will drive businesses and organizations to put integrated strategies in place and build climate resilience.

The path to adaptation begins with collaboration

One of the COP26 goals, collaboration, will be key to effective implementation of climate action policies. The negative economic impact of climate change will not stick to international borders. Parties need to make focussed, practical agreements on building resilience during COP26 negotiations. While the increased prominence of adaptation planning in the recent Nationally Determined Contributions released in September is a step forward, this is nowhere near enough. There needs to be joined-up thinking on how delivery of adaptation and mitigation policy will be implemented across borders.

We also need to see countries come through on their financial commitments to more vulnerable nations. Climate change is a threat to everyone, but some communities face greater risks because of where they live, access to resources and socioeconomic inequalities. True climate resilience addresses the places that we are most vulnerable. It’s important that the negotiations really acknowledge the ways that climate justice and climate resilience are explicitly linked.

COP26 is a real, potentially last, chance-saloon opportunity for the world to take action now to prevent potentially devastating climate consequences — not just for future generations, but for everyone and everything living on the planet now. The negotiations will set the bar for how we deliver on climate action globally over the next decade. We hope to see those taking part in the negotiations step up to their commitments and deliver credible and practical solutions to deal with the socioeconomic and environmental consequences of climate change.

To join in on our COP26 conversation, share your thoughts as a comment on Iggy’s LinkedIn post.

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