A few days after returning from Glasgow – colleagues from across the Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance reflect on what COP26 delivered for the flood prone communities we work with. Will commitments be enough to meet the adaptation needs of those at the frontlines of climate change?
More efforts to reduce emissions needed as floods get worse
COP26 was heavily focused on climate change mitigation. The most recent IPCC report made it clear that the climate change we are currently seeing is caused by human activity and is leading to more and worse extreme weather and floods. People are already impacted by climate change – it’s a reality now, not a future risk.
Important pledges on reducing deforestation, reduction in the use of coal, methane, and commitments to greener transport were made and celebrated at COP26. However, we worry about the lack of details around many of the pledges and we’re concerned about the speed and quality of delivery of much of the action agreed. We’re still not on track to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
Across the board, Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) are still lacking the ambition required to limit the climate crisis and countries were asked by the UK COP President to return next year with stronger commitments.
The Climate Action Tracker is an accessible tool for comparing current and planned policies and action with what is required to limit catastrophic climate change.
Climate adaptation finance commitments are still inadequate
Communities we work with across the globe are already seeing the effects of climate change, floods are becoming more common, unpredictable, and severe as weather pattern shift and sea levels rise. These communities need resources now to adapt to their new reality.
We were at COP26 to advocate for increased investment in adaptation and support for those already impacted by climate change. Before COP we summarised our priorities in this blog. During the conference we contributed with our experience and expertise in a wide range of forums. We highlighted the devastating impacts floods and other weather and climate related are having on communities, and called for wealthy countries to deliver their fair share of climate finance. You can find links to the recordings of most of our events on our dedicated COP26 page.
We need to do more to get finance to those who need it mostLizzy Whitehead, Mercy Corps
It is good to see that more than ever has been pledged to the Adaptation Fund and that the increasing importance of Adaptation is being recognized, also by the private sector, who debated during the World Climate Summit – Investment COP around climate business. But overall, it is nowhere near doing the transition and adaptation as fast and decisively as necessary.Michael Szoenyi, Zurich Insurance Group
There were positive developments on climate change adaptation at COP26 as wealthy countries renewed their commitment. Unfortunately these are inadequate to meet current and future adaptation needs. Read our partner International Federation of Red Cross Red Crescent Societies press release for more details.
I am particularly concerned that not more progress has been made on securing financial support to those who are already impacted by climate change. Climate change is no longer a risk, it is a reality.Swenja Surminski, London School of Economics and Political Science
Loss and Damage require functioning finance mechanism
For many people impacted by climate change it is too late to adapt. Their homes, livelihoods, and way of life have been irreparably damaged. These people must be compensated for what they have lost.
We welcome the commitments made by the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, which were later doubled during a UNFCCC side event co-hosted by our partner Practical Action, to fund loss and damage in the global south.
More world leaders must acknowledge the responsibility that wealthy countries with historically high levels of pollution have for compensating those hardest hit by the climate crisis who lack the resources needed to cope. It’s therefore encouraging to see Loss and Damage acknowledged in a COP final text for the first time, even though the wording has been left too vague.
We need a properly functioning financing mechanism for those already impacted by Loss and Damage, funded by new resources.Swenja Surminski, London School of Economics and Political Science
So far the international community has failed to agree on how such compensations should be financed. Colleagues at LSE have outlined how such a finance facility could be established, and colleagues at IIASA have developed a framework – you can find a summary in this blog or read the policy brief A policy framework for Loss and Damage finance.
At COP we were inundated with announcements. But implementation will be crucial, and wealthy countries will need to work hard to rebuild trust in their ability to deliver. That work must start now.Sally Tyldesley, Concern Worldwide
The Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance continue to work with flood prone communities around the world, supporting them in building resilience to current and future levels of flood risk.
On the Flood Resilience Portals we share knowledge gained from this work and the evidence from our research with decision makers and practitioners who can make a difference for those hardest hit by the climate crisis.
Find out more about what we did at COP26 and access recordings from many of our events here.