• Climate Proof
  • Posts
  • COP28's climate finance boost, "systemic adaptation", and more

COP28's climate finance boost, "systemic adaptation", and more

What happened in climate resilience last week

AI-generated via Canva.com

The Money Spigot Drips Open

As COP28 kicked off, governments and global financial institutions issued splashy announcements on climate adaptation financing. But in most cases the amounts bandied about will do little to bolster the world’s climate defenses.

The first headlines out of Dubai highlighted the Fund to address Loss and Damage, a legacy of COP27 that has been initialized with around US$656m as of December 2. Contributions flowed in from the European Union, the US, Canada, among others. COP28 hosts the United Arab Emirates stumped up US$100m.

The good folk at the Natural Resources Defense Council are keeping tabs on who’s promised what — and to which pot of money. Their COP28 Climate Funds Pledge Tracker provides a near real-time view of the allocations made to five UN-originated funds. As well as the fund to address Loss and Damage, these include the Least Developed Countries Fund, Special Climate Change Fund, Green Climate Fund, and Adaptation Fund.

This last fund was set up in 2001 especially for climate adaptation, and all developing countries are eligible to dip into the pot. Going into COP28, the fund had raised around US$1.5bn. That’s not nothing, but it represents just 0.3-0.6% of developing countries’ adaptation finance needs, according to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Following on from COP28, it’ll be instructive to see just where these funds end up going. An October update on the Adaptation Fund reports that it has parceled out US$665 million to 156 projects since inception, 89 of which are currently in the implementation stage. By sector, the largest amount was handed to food security projects, followed by agricultural projects. Climate Proof will go over the figures in more detail in a future post.

For now, let’s round up the other big adaptation-related finance pledges. Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Steven Guilbeault, underlined his country’s dedication to climate adaptation programs by supporting a CAD$5 million investment over three years to the LIFE-AR initiative for least developed countries, and doubling Canada's international climate finance to CAD$5.3 billion up to 2026. The LIFE-AR project focuses on helping these countries improve climate resilience and foster innovation in adaptation strategies by 2030. Domestically, Canada’s National Adaptation Strategy and the accompanying Action Plan outline comprehensive measures to enhance health, infrastructure, and economic resilience to climate impacts.

Also in Dubai, the Climate Finance Access Network (CFAN) launched its Caribbean chapter, aimed at addressing the immediate need for climate finance in Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Least Developed Countries (LDCs). The initiative, supported by Canada and the United States, assists these regions by placing trained climate finance advisors within their governments to help unlock necessary funding for climate resilience projects.

The program has seen success in the Pacific since its 2021 start, with advisors facilitating access to over US$64.4 million in climate finance. Now, seven new advisors will be placed in Caribbean nations to replicate this model, with CFAN receiving a Canadian contribution of an additional CAD$250,000 to the existing CAD$5 million commitment.

Another large dollop of adaptation money was pledged to Bangladesh, a country on the frontlines of climate change. Research out of S&P Global finds that 100% of the country’s GDP is exposed to extreme rainfall risks, 88% to storms, and 85% to wildfire. To help protect the country, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and public and private sector partners launched the Bangladesh Climate and Development Platform (BCDP) to strengthen the South Asian nation’s climate resilience and decarbonize its economy while managing associated risks. The initiative takes place in conjunction with the US$1.4 billion Resilience and Sustainability Facility (RSF) arrangement from the IMF and builds on a series of policy credits from the World Bank and ongoing Asian Development Bank (ADB) funding. 

In hard cash terms, the ADB is processing a US$400 million policy-based loan to the country, while the European Union and European Investment Bank are committing over US$430 million to a renewable energy facility. France's Agence Française de Développement, the Japan International Cooperation Agency, and the UK are also contributing through different mechanisms, from policy-based loans to technical assistance. The private sector also plays a role, with funding for multiple climate projects and commitments from institutions like Standard Chartered Bank to support local clients in financing their climate ambitions.

Systems Thinking

Against a backdrop of increasing climate-related disasters, there’s a heated debate taking place on how best to approach climate adaptation — as a sequence of tactical fixes to escalating crises or as a deeper strategic transformation. James Speth has a contribution from the academic set, with a blog introducing the idea of “systemic adaptation.”

As Speth sees it, the climate crisis stems from a series of systemic issues that go beyond the immediate environmental challenges we face. The “Big Mistake” of climate change is instead rooted in a “corporate-consumerist capitalism” (unleased by — you guessed it — the Americans) that prioritizes profits over the welfare of people and the planet. This has led to the externalization of environmental costs and a reliance on fossil fuels. On top of this, the political system has been blighted by corporate interests and a flawed democratic system.

Speth says that addressing these issues requires a shift toward “systemic adaptation”, which looks to fundamentally change societal values and operations to create sustainable systems that consider long-term impacts and prioritize ecological stewardship.

It’s a Big Solution to the Big Mistake, but Speth says there are indications that such “systemic adaptation” is possible. Positive signs include a reevaluation of economic measures, a growing interest in economic democracy, and revitalized activism pushing for transformative change.

It’s a powerful message. However, its credibility rests on your belief in society’s capacity to operate with the kind of foresight and stability not seen in decades. Indeed, in the context of representative democracy, such “systemic adaptation” may prove impossible. Mark Trexler puts it best:

“[The] problem is that if we were capable of systemic adaptation we would have been capable of avoiding the climate mess we’re currently in, and that we’ll try to adapt to in the same chaotic ways we’ve tried to tackle climate change. While not all the barriers to tackling climate change apply to tackling adaptation, a large number of them do.”

Mark Trexler

Pest Control

A recent University of California Merced study predicts a rise in agricultural pest activity in California due to climate change, threatening the state’s specialty crops like walnuts, almonds, and peaches. The pests, including codling moth, peach twig borer, and oriental fruit moth, are expected to mature and reproduce earlier in the season with shorter intervals between generations. This could result in more significant crop damage and higher production costs due to increased insecticide use — negatively impacting the local economy, employment, and the environment.

Research lead Prakash Jha, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources assistant project scientist, said the findings make the case for urgent changes in pest management practices. The adoption of pest forecasting, pest-scouting, and early warning systems will all be “essential to combat the growing threat posed by these pests,” he said.

The research provides further evidence of how climate change is amplifying risks society currently has under control, but could soon lose its grip on. Explosive materiality, anyone?

Hard Rain

According to the US National Climate Assessment, the Northeast has seen a 62% rise in extreme weather events — the largest increase in the nation. As extreme weather occurrences become more frequent, northeastern states face immediate and projected challenges, such as property damage, health risks from contaminated water supplies, and economic impacts on agriculture and tourism. The state of Maine is one especially at risk of losses through climate risks. With a lack of flood insurance coverage among homeowners, financial risks are also increasing. 

Sick of Climate Change

Dr. Hans Kluge, the WHO Regional Director for Europe stressed the urgent health implications of runaway climate change. In a December 3 speech, he reported that the region had, for the first time, declared the climate crisis a health emergency due to a spike in extreme weather, attributing 62,000 deaths to heatwaves last year. Kluge outlined three strategic priorities for responding to the health threat:

  1. Implementation of robust policies and political commitments, like those promoted through the Budapest Declaration’s call for multisectoral action on climate change, pollution, and biodiversity loss.

  2. Development of strong partnerships, including a new health sector climate action community and a transatlantic initiative for policy dialogues.

  3. Enhancement of country leadership for climate resilience, integrating climate action across all policy areas to create sustainable communities and reduce emissions.

Other Stuff