Five things you need to know from Adaptation, Loss and Damage Day at COP26

The second Monday (8 November) here at COP26 was dedicated to adaptation, loss and damage, with major announcements from nations, cities, regions and businesses. Here, edie rounds up five big stories from the day.

Five things you need to know from Adaptation, Loss and Damage Day at COP26

The busiest live event of the day in the Blue Zone was a speech from former US President Barack Obama. Image: UNFCCC

After the summit’s one and only rest day this weekend, COP26 was back in full swing today, with the Scottish Events Campus reaching full capacity at lunchtime as crowds gathered. We are entering the second and final week of the summit and final outcomes are, event President Alok Sharma has stated, on track for publication on Friday (12 November).

Today’s UN programme was dedicated to adaptation, loss and damage. Last week, the body published a major adaptation gap report, stating that levels of financing to be provided from wealthy to developing nations would need to increase at least fivefold, and as much as tenfold, by 2030. There is also, at present, far more money going to decarbonisation than adaptation, by a ratio of around three to one by OECD estimates.

Adaptation has been climbing the agenda steadily in recent years, with island nations and other most-affected countries striving to make their voices heard and improved climate science laying bare the realities of a warming world.

Yet the big announcements from the UNFCCC didn’t come until late in the day, despite UK negotiators claiming this morning that there had been strong progress on all financial agenda items.

Here, edie rounds up five of the day’s talking points – adaptation-related and otherwise.

1) Little confirmed on the $100bn pledge

Shortly before COP26 began, the governments of the UK, Germany and Canada published a joint plan for ensuring that developed nations collectively provide $100bn of climate finance to developing nations annually from 2023. The pledge was first made in 2009 and UN-ratified in 2015, but has never been met in full.

The Least Developed Countries Group has today stated that, at the negotiating table, loss and damage remains taboo. This is despite the fact that the UN’s document on possible elements for the COP26 final outcomes notes “deep concern” that historic commitments have not been met.

Little new information was provided today on delivering the $100bn. COP26 President Alok Sharma has stated that the full amount could be provided in 2022, depending on what happens at the summit. US Envoy for Climate John Kerry has said that, with the US’s commitment to surpass $11.4bn annually by 2024, and Japan’s pledge to surpass $2bn annually, could make for delivery in 2022.

Looking to the future, African nations have stated that, ahead of COP27 in Egypt, they will begin asking for historic shortfalls from the pledge to be addressed. This would mean richer nations providing up to $700bn every year post-2025.

2) Cities, regions and businesses get help measuring their climate resilience

The UN’s Race to Resilience campaign, after launching back in January, today unveiled a new set of metrics to help non-state actors measure their climate resilience and assess the strength of their plans for improvement. The tool will be open to cities, regions, businesses and investors.

The campaign is currently engaging non-state actors with the remit to improve climate resilience for more than 2.3 billion people worldwide. It is hoping to increase that number to four billion by the end of the decade.

Read edie’s full story here.

3) Adaptation Fund gets a $232m boost

The UNFCCC announced this afternoon that the governments of the UK, USA, Canada, Sweden, Finland, Ireland, Germany, Norway, Italy, Qatar, Spain, Switzerland, Quebec and Flanders have collectively committed $232m to the Adaptation Fund.

This is the highest single mobilization to the Fund to date. It was originally launched in 2010 and, prior to today’s commitment, had allocated $850m to projects across 100 countries, thanks to donations from governments and private finance.

The UK’s contribution was $20m. Separately, the UK Government announced a £274m funding package for climate adaptation, conservation and low-carbon transitioning in the Asia-Pacific region and £1m to support faster responses to natural disasters.

The UK Government said in a statement that this package is in addition to the £50m it pledged last week to help small island states to develop resilient infrastructure. However, green groups have highlighted the UK’s historic failure to deliver its fair share of adaptation funding, and its current constraints on aid budget funding, put in place during Covid-19 and set to continue beyond 2023.

4) Obama packs out plenary with an impassioned speech

After a fairly quiet few days in the Blue Zone, it was once again full to capacity this afternoon, with crowds flocking to hear a speech from former US President Barack Obama.

Obama spoke to several issues, including the Trump administration’s “hostile and sustained attacks” on climate action; “strained” global collaboration during the pandemic and how young people are “rightly frustrated” that the ratcheting up of climate commitments and actions promised post-Paris-Agreement have not materialized.

His overarching message was for nations to understand the urgency of the situation at hand, and for individuals to keep putting pressure on policymakers and businesses while being mindful of the social and political arguments for weakened action.

To nations, he said: “There is one thing that should transcend our day-to-day politics and geopolitics, and that is climate change.

“Not only can we not afford to go backwards, we cannot afford to stay where we are.”

“As the world’s second-largest emitter, the US has to lead. We have enormous responsibilities and, obviously, still a lot to do…. but most nations have failed to be as ambitious as they need to be.” At this point, China, Indonesia, India, Russia and Brazil were named.

Concluding his speech, he said:  “I guarantee you that every victory will be incomplete. We will face more setbacks, sometimes we will be forced to settle for imperfect compromises. Because even if we don’t achieve everything we want, at least they advance the cause and move the ball down the field.

“If we work hard enough, for long enough, those partial victories add up. If we push hard enough, stay focused enough and are smart about it, those victories accelerate. If we listen to those who are resistant and we take their concerns seriously, working with them, organizing and mobilizing, and get our hands dirty in the difficulties of changing political dynamics in our countries, those victories start happening a little bit more frequently. If we stay with it, we will get this done.”

5) UN updates Fashion Charter for Climate Action

Back in 2018, dozens of big-name fashion brands signed on to the UN’s Fashion Charter on climate, which originally required signatories to cut emissions by 30% by 2030 and reach carbon neutrality by 2050.

The charter was today updated with 50% by 2030 and net-zero by 2050 emissions goals, among other new requirements for the 130 signatory brands, who include Primark, Zara, H&M Group, Nike, Adidas, Levi Strauss, Kering, Chanel and Burberry.

New requirements include procuring 100% renewable electricity and delivering coal-free supply chains by 2030. The renewed Charter also calls for businesses to create incentive mechanisms for supplier engagement on the low-carbon transition.

edie at COP26

Want more exclusive content from inside COP26? Hosted in association with our headline COP26 content partner O2, edie is running a daily podcast show, featuring exclusive interviews with some of sustainability’s sharpest minds. Check out the COP26 Covered podcast here.

We’re also providing regular live updates of all the major announcements. From rousing speeches to official climate plans, our COP26 Live Blog gives you everything you need to know about each day at the Summit.

View all of edie’s COP26 content here.

Sarah George

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