Negotiations at COP27 could mean the end of 1.5 target: adaptation is more urgent than ever

Energy & Climate Change, Flooding, Natural Environment, Water Resources

Negotiations at COP27 are being used to reverse commitments to limit global heating, observers fear. The target to limit global heating to 1.5 degrees, central to the Paris Agreement, is being targeted by some countries who want to move to the upper limit of the Paris agreement goal of ‘not more than 2 degrees’ instead.

With no credible pathway to 1.5 degrees currently in place, the pace at which we fund and progress adaptation needs far greater urgency. But climate finance is also in the firing line, with first drafts of the agreement for this year’s COP also appearing to water down previous commitments on climate finance and adaptation. The $100bn a year from 2023 promised in Glasgow for global adaptation finance looks to be kicked further down the road.

It’s never been an either/or discussion when it comes to mitigation and adaptation, we have always needed to do both. However, after decades of stalling and inaction, both pathways are now absolutely critical. And if 1.5 degrees is missed then adaptation efforts must ramp up even more.

For its part, the UK is pushing for commitment to the 1.5 degree target on the world stage. Both Alok Sharma, COP26 President, and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak told the conference that commitments to limit temperature increase must be stuck to.

But action at home must match ambition globally. The Chancelloris expected to announce widespread spending cuts and tax rises in the Autumn Statement. Austerity must not be allowed to stifle climate action and ambition.

The government will publish its third National Adaptation Programme (NAP) for England in mid-2023. Previous iterations have been criticised for being ineffective, and for contributing to the large gap between climate change risk and meaningful adaptation. The next NAP must focus on priority areas for change across society and economy. It must identify where little action is being taken and recommend SMART actions to address the priority gaps, in order to deliver a step-change in progress.

Heather Gardner

Policy Manager

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