What’s on the table for vulnerables?

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On the Cop26 presidency’s programme, Monday is adaptation and loss and damage day.  

This is an opportunity for countries to set out how they will help those most vulnerable to climate change cope with intensifying droughts, floods and cyclones and recover from their impacts.

The fact they are being bundled together over a single day isn’t a great start. Developing countries have repeatedly called for loss and damage to be treated separately to adaptation, including through dedicated financing.

A study commissioned by Christian Aid shows why it matters: vulnerable countries face an average GDP hit of 20% by 2050 and 64% by 2100 under a 2.9C world. Even if heating is held to 1.5C, the figures are 13% and 33%.

The key question is whether new pledges will be made to support the most vulnerable respond and recover from the climate disasters they are already experiencing.

“Loss and damage must be reflected on the world’s balance sheet, starting now,” Lia Nicholson, lead negotiator for the Alliance of Small Island States told the plenary on Saturday evening.

The US already announced it would dedicate $3bn annually for adaptation finance by 2024 pending approval by Congress. In a press conference on Saturday, Cop26 president Alok Sharma suggested he hoped to see movement on adaptation finance this week.

The issue is crucial for the talks going forward. In fact, it could “make or break” a deal in Glasgow, Jennifer Tollmann, of think tank E3G, told Climate Home. 

Vulnerable nations don’t think enough progress was made on finance, adaptation and loss and damage in the first week of Cop26 and frustration is growing over the imbalance of support for cutting emissions versus confronting existing impacts. 

The lack of predictability of long-term adaptation finance flows is holding hostage parts of the negotiations on carbon markets, where the African Group of Negotiators is demanding a share of revenue from carbon trading deals go to the Adaptation Fund.

The US strongly opposes it, slamming the proposal as a tax. But if not a levy on carbon trading, where will that desperately needed finance come from?

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