Sunday, 2 December 2007
Climate summit opens in Bali
Today, the UN Climate Change Conference started in Bali. On Friday I will be participating in the conference as a member of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies delegation.
On 30 November 2007 the International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, comprising 194 governments and 186 national Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, adopted a declaration concerning the main humanitarian challenges facing the world today. These include environmental degradation and climate change and the declaration sets a path ahead concentrating on the role of National Societies in support of adaptation and other national policies aimed at the achievement of global and national goals.
The IFRC, alarmed by the increasing number of extreme weather events and their contribution to the global burden of disease, is deeply concerned about the observed and projected impacts of climate change on the most vulnerable people: the elderly, the sick and disabled and, in particular, the poorest of the poor. Climate change not only threatens the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals but also strikes at the heart of our humanitarian work
The IFRC has been confronted with a steep increase in weather-related disasters over the last 10 years, increasing from around 200 per year at the beginning of the 1990s to over 300 a year in every single year since 2000. The number is still growing and is expected to be over 400 in 2007.
This requires a change in the way the whole humanitarian community addresses climate-related disasters. Principally, we recognize that climate change affects poor and vulnerable communities through increases in the scale and scope of the weather that they face on a year on year basis. With our focus on building the capacities of our National Societies to support communities to reduce the risks from weather related disasters and their implication on health, and prepare for them more effectively, the IFRC is uniquely positioned to take the lead in bringing the goals of the UNFCCC and the priorities of the Hyogo Framework of Action together.
The IFRC will increasingly focus its efforts on ensuring, in those countries where weather-related disasters and poor health indicators are increasingly affecting vulnerable populations, that it supports its National Societies’ actions to promote climate change adaptation through the application of sound health promotion and disaster risk reduction at community level and through advocacy for strong national policies and strategies at national and global levels.
Inevitably, the human and financial resources of the IFRC and other humanitarian agencies that address climate-related humanitarian consequences such as disasters and ill-health are stretched and new resources will be needed even for the immediate future, let alone the long term. Actions are urgently needed to help build the capacities of organizations helping vulnerable people to cope with the impacts of climate change and to reduce their vulnerabilities, particularly at the community level.
Our hopes are directed to Bali and the will of the global community to address the humanitarian impact of climate change. We propose that the following issues are addressed in the Bali Roadmap:
1. Take a decision in Bali to prioritize climate risk management at the community level, concentrating on the most vulnerable countries.
The poorest people in the poorest countries are the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, today and more so in the decades to come.
These are the people who have contributed the least to climate change and have the least resources to protect themselves against climate change related risks and impacts. This is confirmed by the IPCC, but not reflected in the balance of current adaptation investments in the developed countries on the one hand, and in developing countries on the other. In many Annex I countries substantial investments are now being planned on domestic strategies and programs for adaptation. The scale of funding for adaptation in the most vulnerable countries does not even come close.
Although all countries will need to adapt to the impacts of climate change, it should be a leading principle for all parties to the UNFCCC that there should be a fair balance between resources spent on adaptation in developed and in developing countries. Priority should be given to the most vulnerable countries and people.
In addition, countries and international organizations and agencies should work to promote the harmonization of the agenda of the adaptation components of the UNFCCC and the priorities of the Hyogo Framework for Action on disaster risk reduction. This recognizes the importance of disaster risk reduction in achieving the reduction of risks to vulnerable communities from the future impact of climate related disaster.
Based on the overwhelming evidence that health and access to health services are being affected by the global climate and degraded environment, governments supported by relevant organisations should continue addressing the main health priorities in the community, providing preventative, curative and rehabilitative services accordingly as so committed to the promotion of primary health care in Alma-Ata in 1978 (Article VII.2).
2. Agree that a target for adequate adaptation funding be included in the post 2012 Agreement, along with mechanisms to mobilize new and additional resources and effective implementation mechanisms that foster mainstreaming of adaptation into development and involvement of all relevant stakeholders.
Climate change impacts are new risks and new, additional and adequate funding is urgently needed to adapt to these risks and to recover from the impacts that can no longer be avoided. The UNFCCC articles 4.3 and 4.4 already outlined 15 years ago, in 1992, what developed countries committed themselves to:
- provide new and additional financial resources for adaptation, and to take into account the need for adequacy and predictability in the flow of funds (art. 4.3)
- assist developing countries particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change in meeting the costs of adaptation (art.4.4.)
A major impediment is the limited insight into the costs and benefits of adaptation in developing counties. Initial calculations of global costs of adaptation by the World Bank , the UNFCCC, OXFAM and recently UNDP put the order of magnitude of the costs in the range of 10-80 billion $US dollars annually for developing countries. More detailed studies are necessary, but there can be no dispute about the essential requirement for substantial new resources.
Hence, in the coming two years leading up to Copenhagen, parties should mobilize adequate resources for adaptation, and the development of effective and efficient implementation mechanisms that ensure mainstreaming with a holistic approach into regular development planning and involvement of all relevant stakeholders. The financial mechanism should ensure that funding is targeted at reducing the climate risks facing the most vulnerable people.
To stimulate this process it is of vital importance that developed countries express in Bali their political will to include quantifiable, predictable and adequate financial resources and mechanisms for adaptation in the post 2012 Agreement.
3. Make a commitment in Bali on an immediate increased investment for 2008-2012 to strengthen capacity for climate risk management in developing countries
Additional resources are needed today and in the coming five years, before the post 2012 Agreement comes into force, to meet the needs of humanitarian and development agencies and organizations to address the immediate consequences of climate change and to strengthen the capacities of sectors and institutions to understand and integrate climate change related risks in their planning and programs.
Although initial initiatives are being undertaken to develop capacity for climate risk assessments and adaptation measures, the scale of actions is still very limited compared to the challenge of scaling up to reach all vulnerable countries, sectors, and communities.
A substantial increase of the committed US$ 450 million annually will be needed in the transition phase to scale up the capacity for climate risk management before new funding and implementation mechanisms under the Copenhagen protocol enter into force.
The most efficient way to implement the scaling up of climate risk management is to integrate the additional efforts into existing national, sectoral and local government strategies and programs, and plans and practices of other stakeholders serving the most vulnerable people.
Over the past five years, such an integrated approach has been initiated in more than 35 national Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, with assistance by the Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Centre. These experiences are documented in the Red Cross /Red Crescent Climate Guide, available at: www.climatecentre.org.
The IFRC commits to supporting Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies worldwide in their actions for the most vulnerable, specifically through capacity-building so they can play a full part in the development of national and local adaptation policies. IFRC will bring the lessons learned from such actions to the regional and international levels, and through this integrate community-based policy approaches into planning for Copenhagen 2009 and beyond.
So what is the Bali conference about ?
World governments are meeting for a key UN climate summit that will attempt to reach a deal on what should replace the Kyoto Protocol, which ends in 2012.
Talks will centre on whether binding targets are needed to cut emissions.
It is the first such meeting since the IPCC, a panel of leading scientists, concluded that climate change was "very likely" caused by human activity.
The two-week gathering in Bali, Indonesia, will also debate how to help poor nations cope in a warming world.
The annual high-level meeting, organised by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), is under pressure to deliver a global agreement on how to cut rising greenhouse gas emissions.
The IPCC says more heatwaves are very likely in the future
IPPC's climate verdict
UNFCCC Executive Director Yvo de Boer urged the international community to use the summit to take "concrete steps" towards curbing climate change.
"We urgently need to take increased action, given climate change predictions and the corresponding global adaptation needs," he said in his welcome message to delegates.
"In the context of climate change, projections of economic growth and increases in energy demand over the next 20 years, especially in developing countries, point to the urgent need to green these trends."
Earlier this year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published its Fourth Assessment Report (A4R), in which it projected that the world would warm by 1.8-4.0C (3.2-7.2F) over the next century.
Mr de Boer added that the IPCC's conclusion that climate change was "very likely" the result of human activity ended any doubt over the need to act.
Climate for consensus?
At the top of the conference's agenda is the need to reach a consensus on how to curb emissions beyond 2012.
This marks the end of the current phase of the Kyoto Protocol, which commits industrialised nations to cutting carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by at least 5% from 1990 levels.
Critics of the existing framework say binding targets do not work, and favour technological advances instead.
Recently, the UNFCCC itself announced that greenhouse gas emissions from 40 of the world's richest nations rose to a near all-time high in 2005.