As the search for a mutually agreeable position on fossil fuel elimination continued at the COP28 Summit, negotiators at the climate meeting Sunday took a small first step on initiating greater action on adaptation.
A draft text on identifying some “global goals” on adaptation emerged for the first time Sunday and countries agreed to use this as a starting point to negotiate for a more meaningful outcome on this track.
On other subjects, including the contentious issue of fossil fuel phase-out, negotiators were still engaged in informal discussions to look for common ground. COP28 President, the UAE, convened a Majlis, or an assembly, to facilitate these informal discussions at an open platform. The meetings are expected to continue late into Sunday night, and a new draft text, reflecting the progress made in these, is expected to come out Monday morning. Negotiators only have Monday and Tuesday to wrap up their discussions and forge an agreement.
“All good deals are made in the final hours. You can never resolve all issues two days in advance,” said one negotiator from a developed nation.
On the adaptation front, the small breakthrough that emerged was the draft text on the Global Goal on Adaptation, or GGA, after two years of discussions. GGA is an attempt to identify a common global goal on adaptation, just like keeping temperatures below the 1.5 degrees Celsius threshold is a global goal on mitigation. It has been a long pending-demand of the developing countries, primarily to ensure more focus and resource mobilisation on adaptation.
However, identifying “global” goals on adaptation are not as straightforward as those on mitigation. Adaptation is essentially a local effort and yields local benefits. The planet benefits from emission reductions carried out anywhere in the world, but that is not the case with adaptation.
The draft text, therefore, talks about reducing climate-induced water scarcity, making food and agriculture production climate-resilient, strengthening resilience against climate-related health impacts and similar issues that are common points of interest for the world.
The text also asks countries to make an assessment of their risks and vulnerabilities, prepare and implement adaptation plans, and put monitoring and evaluation systems in place.
Developing countries made it clear that the adaptation draft fell well below their expectations and needed to be improved significantly. Right now, it only flags issues that are largely developmental in nature. Besides, there is no mention of how these objectives are to be realised or the mechanisms that will fund these efforts. The draft talks about launching a two-year work programme to develop indicators that would measure the progress being made on the adaptation goals.
It was at COP26 in Glasgow, in 2021, that countries had agreed to finalise a framework for GGA within the next two years. It is one of the deliverables at COP28 in Dubai.
“The targets we see now are really vague. There is some target on infrastructure which is fine, but we need to find our targets in terms of water security, health, livelihoods — those are not there,” said Sandeep Chamling Rai, Global Lead on Climate Adaptation at the World Wildlife Fund.