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Ira Feldman on Climate Adaptation_gt

Ira Feldman on Climate Adaptation_gt

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03/07/2011

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Ira Feldman on Climate Adaptation
Edited and annotated transcript from ABA-SEER ³quick teleconference´The Copenhagen (De)brief: What US Lawyers Need to KnowJanuary 12, 2010
Ira Feldman has 25 years experience as an attorney and management consultant focusing onenvironmental regulatory innovation, strategic environmental management, sustainable businesspractices and corporate social responsibility. Ira has cut an interdisciplinary swath across three usuallydistinct spheres: "big picture" environmental policy; environmental law and regulation; andenvironmental management. In the climate change arena, Ira is at the leading edge of theconvergence of sustainability, climate adaptation and ecosystem services. He participates in suchrelevant initiatives as the UNFCCC¶s Nairobi Work Programme on adaptation and collaborates withWRI on ecosystem services. Ira attended at the COP-15 in Copenhagen and is a contributing author tothe IPCC.
Few of the many post-Copenhagen debriefings and analyses have explored the developmentsconcerning climate adaptation. This is a major oversight. Adaptation is a sleeping giant. Ultimately, the adaptation agenda will dwarf the mitigationissues. It is only a matter of time and is largely dependent on how aggressively andsuccessfully we pursue mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions.I will assume that few of you have had the opportunity to consider adaptation before now.Understandably so, since the mitigation of greenhouse gasses has dominated the climate changedialogue, especially in the US. In this brief presentation, I intend to cover some of the basicconcepts and provide some context for adaptation; set the stage as we entered Copenhagen andreview what was decided in Copenhagen; provide some informed speculation as to where wemight go from here, especially from the US government perspective; and, finally, I will highlightcertain adaptation activities already occurring in the US -- both linked and not linked to the eventsin Copenhagen.Some of us travelled to Copenhagen specifically to track the adaptation issues. We understoodthat this ³not ready for prime time´ topic was overdue for a breakthrough. Don Brown, our moderator today, was one of the "adaptation aficionados" present in Copenhagen. Myconversations with Don, both in Copenhagen and since our return, as well as his excellent piece on³ethics and adaptation´ for ClimateEthics.org, have informed this presentation.
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I hope Don withchime in with his perspectives.Background Adaptation is not a new issue. In the words of one UNFCCC process insider, ³it has been a longhard climb.´ A senior US negotiator in Copenhagen told me ³the trajectory we need to appreciateis that we need to adapt, and then we will need to adapt more."
 
 To put adaptation in proper context, let¶s briefly note three points: that adaptation isdiscussed in the basic Framework Convention (UNFCCC) text; a framework for financingadaptation activities was discussed at the Bali meeting in 2007; and, in the work stream of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technical Advice (SBSTA), adaptation constitutes thefocus of the Nairobi Work Programme.In the Framework Convention text there are at least ten provisions that refer to adaptation. Mostnotably, Articles 4.1 and 4.4 relate to cooperation in preparing for adaptation to impacts of climatechange and assistance to the most vulnerable in meeting the costs of adaptation. Further, Articles4.8 and 4.9 urge consideration of actions to meet the needs of developing countries, relating tofunding, insurance and transfer of technology, and transfer funds, as well as the specialcircumstances of both small island nations and those economies highly dependent on fossil fuels.
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  At the Bali meeting in 2007, the Bali Roadmap provided for the launch of the Adaptation Fund,which was established to finance concrete adaptation projects and programs in developing countryParties to the Kyoto Protocol that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climatechange. The Adaptation Fund is financed from a share of the proceeds on Clean DevelopmentMechanism project activities amounting to 2% of the certified emission reductions (CERs) issuedfor a CDM project activity.
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 In the Nairobi Work Programme under SBSTA, the goals are i) to improve understanding andassessment of impacts, vulnerability and adaptation to climate change, and ii) to make decisionson practical adaptation actions and measures within a scientific, technical and socioeconomicframework. The Nairobi Work Programme is not limited to Parties; it is a ³big tent´ initiative thatbrings together NGOs, intergovernmental organizations, the private sector, and other stakeholders.
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 There many definitions of adaptation, but for our purposes let's use the IntergovernmentalPanel on Climate Change (IPCC) version, which defines climate change adaptation as ³anadjustment in ecological, social, or economic systems in response to actual or expectedclimatic stimuli and their effects or impacts.´
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 Copenhagen outcomesEntering Copenhagen, the draft text on adaptation was heavily bracketed with the inclusion of numerous alternative suggestions from developing countries reflecting much fundamentaldisagreement.
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Most of the relevant activity at COP-15 occurred in a drafting group reporting to the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA). Some progress was madewith regard to an adaptation framework or program, objectives and principles, and categories of action, but differences remained on, among other things, response measures, a loss and damagemechanism, assessment of adaptation actions, and support for adaptation.
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 So where did the adaptation thread conclude in Copenhagen? One answer is to ³follow themoney.´ Specifically, according to the Accord, the intention is to provide $30 billion of ³quick start´funding in the period 2010 ± 2012 for activities relating to adaptation, forestry, and technologytransfer; the long-term finance of a further $100 billion per year by 2020 will be mobilized from avariety of sources.
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 The message of the Copenhagen Accord as it relates to adaptation -- to roughly paraphrase-- is that adaptation and the potential impact of response measures is a challenge faced byall countries; that enhanced action and international cooperation and adaptation urgentlyrequired in developing countries; and, the developed countries shall provide adequate,predictable, and sustainable financial resources, technology, and capacity building tosupport adaptation actions.
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  A US Government PerspectiveIn advance of this teleconference, Ko Barrett of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) -- the lead US negotiator on climate adaptation in the UNFCCC process ±kindly agreed to meet with me in order to convey her thoughts to this audience. Ms. Barrett¶scomments provide an authoritative assessment of the adaptation state of play post- Copenhagen.First -- and this is something not mentioned by our prior speakers -- we don't yet know if we have³a deal.´ The Accord requires parties to make commitments by the end of this month. It remains tobe seen whether a critical mass will come together.Second, the US position is that adaptation affects us all, not just the lesser developed countries.The US government views the grouping together of such countries as Tuvalu or the Maldives andSaudi Arabia as untenable. While the Saudi¶s face the loss of oil revenue, Tuvalu and the Maldivesface submersion.Third and finally, Ms. Barrett reminds us that the UNFCCC ³facilitates´ internationalagreement -- it doesn't ³do adaptation.´ The US government vision of adaptation, asarticulated by Ms. Barrett, has all parties learning and working together.One possible path forward for adaptation within the UNFCCC process, according to Ms. Barrett, isthat we make might need an enhanced Nairobi Work Program ± ³a Nairobi Work Programme onsteroids.´ In some ways, it is unfortunate that the adaptation discussion has been housed inSBSTA rather than in the Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI) where it might have receivedgreater mainstream attention. It is also possible that the private sector initiative within the NairobiWork Programme might become a viable conduit for an infusion of corporate and other fundingsources for adaptation.Communities of practiceThere were really three separate spheres of activities in Copenhagen ± the negotiationsthemselves; the numerous official and unofficial substantive side events; and the protestswell documented by the media.The significance of the side events should not be ignored. Not only for adaptation, but also for other specific topics and sub-topics, Copenhagen provided an opportunity for various specialized³communities of practice´ to gather and exchange information.
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 There were many side events relating to adaptation issues -- there was progress on best practices

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