The Blog

Youth Delegate Blog: Climate Adaptation discussions at COP25

By Molly Rahal & Molly Lash-Burrows, Youth Delegates at COP25

From the absence of new finance sources for Loss and Damage to continously successful procrastination on Common Time Frames, time and time again, the people were let down by their leaders at COP25 during the era of climate emergency. 

When it comes to Adaptation as an agenda item and thematic area, we come to a variety of notable discussions that commenced in Madrid, with finance being one of the most pressing subjects. Alongside the global progress on creation and implementation of National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) and new text to the Adaptation Committee (AC), increased adaptation finance paired with increased accessibility, from the Green Climate Fund (GCF) to the Adaptation Fund (AF), with on-ground support for developing country measures, continues to be highlighted. The composition of the AF board, article 6 regarding the AF, and a decision on public adaptation registries addressing concerns as to whether it’s accessible were all progressions that have taken longer than they should have.

LDCs and G77 countries brought to light at the very beginning of the two-week discussion how accessing the GCF support and setting up their NAPs was taking multiple years and continued to face prolonged barriers. The question of whether or not the difficulty of funding under the GCF would be brought to the next COP or CMA loomed. And watching the discussions unravel, it became clear that developed countries were not going to step up and pay their fair share in replenishment of the funds such as those to the AF (despite the US insisting it’s continued spot on the board). 

While the Adaptation Committee struggled on composition and membership, bushfires ravaging Australia danced in the back of our minds. The AF and the GCF are supposed to fund adaptation initiatives for those who need it, yet their calls for urgency are not being met and discussions commenced behind doors closed to observers. By the middle of COP25, the initiative to turn the AF into a permanent arm of the Paris Agreement seemed to crumble. Article 6 – carbon trading and markets – can direct a portion of transactions to the AF. The debate on the percentage remained at merely 2 or 5 percent, with civil society support for 5. The final ambition text for COP25 was slightly stronger, but was it really enough? Venezuela said that it puts adaptation over mitigation, but when you see the lack of current action, wouldn’t you consider doing the same? 

Sitting there, watching the negotiations with a limited voice made us feel helpless. As youth of civil society, we firmly call on our governments to raise our ambition and public budgets for adaptation finance in line with the needs of developing countries. We call for new, separate finance for adaptation and loss and damage, and not the easy divergence of the already existing former to the latter. 

When it comes to Canadian initiatives on adaptation, it is clear that we are not near the necessary level of ambition and that Canada is not picking up it’s differentiated responsibility. Not only must we contribute more to the replenishment of adaptation funds, but our country must step up and become a global leader in adaptation to climate change, and put priority on serious support for the most vulnerable countries and communities who will be impactd the first and the worst by climate change.