The Outcomes of COP24 for Adaptation and Loss and Damage

Outcomes of COP24 – Adaptation and Loss and Damage

The 24th Conference of Parties of the UNFCCC was held in Katowice, Poland, in December 2018. Overall, the meeting was expected to further animate the Paris Agreement by adopting the detailed rules for its implementation. PlanAdapt was in Katowice and followed the negotiations and discussions about adaptation and loss and damage during the COP24. So, what have the outcomes been in this respect?

A key concern for developing countries has been to ensure that adaptation is given as much importance as mitigation (along with means of implementation) in the climate negotiations. Hence, for instance, the push for adaptation communications and the inclusion of adaptation elements in the NDCs. However, while the rulebook contains a fair amount of text on the adaptation components the Paris Agreement, it lacks the granularity and specificity of the rules for mitigation. The focus is still very much on “take it or leave it” guidance on reporting; seeking metrics to measure adaptation action; timidly considering ways to facilitate support; and “urging” support from developed countries for LDCs and other developing countries.

Adaptation Communications

Article 7.10 of the Paris Agreement provides that Parties can voluntarily submit and update adaptation communications, that may describe national priorities, needs, actions and efforts. COP24 elaborated further guidance for these adaptation communications, “…including, inter alia, as a component of nationally determined contributions”. It was agreed that the purpose of the adaptation communication is to:

  • increase the visibility and profile of adaptation and its balance with mitigation;
  • strengthen adaptation action and support for developing countries;
  • provide input to the global stocktake; and
  • enhance learning and understanding of adaptation needs and actions.

The flexibility provided to Parties in the Paris Agreement is maintained, including in the choice of communication or document in which a Party may submit its adaptation communication. While the decision itself calls for ex-ante information, Parties may additionally choose to include ex-post information, such as information on progress, results achieved, and monitoring and evaluation.

Parties that choose to submit their adaptation communication as part of National Communications or National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) may take into consideration the guidelines that exist for these documents. In addition, the Adaptation Committee, with the engagement of the IPCC, is tasked with drafting supplementary guidance for voluntary use by Parties by June 2022. This will be considered at the 57th meeting of the Subsidiary Bodies in November 2022, and if necessary, revised in 2025, following a stocktake. The decision further contains provisions inviting relevant bodies/institutions to support developing countries in the preparation and submission of adaptation communications, and in the implementation of their adaptation plans and actions. The adaptation communications will be stored in the public registry mentioned before, which will have two parts, for NDCs and adaptation communications respectively

Assessing adaptation needs

It was agreed that the Adaptation Committee, in collaboration with the LDC Expert Group (LEG) and others, will develop and regularly update an inventory of relevant methodologies to assess adaptation needs related to action, finance, capacitybuilding, and technological support by June 2020. Following submissions by Parties and observer organisations by February 2020, the Adaptation Committee, with the IPCC, will prepare a technical paper on methodologies to assess adaptation needs and their application, related gaps, good practices, lessons learned and guidelines, for consideration and further guidance by the 57th session of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA57) in November 2022. The Paris Committee on Capacity Building (PCCB) is also invited to facilitate access to, and implementation of, methodologies for assessing adaptation needs in the context of providing support for building adaptation capacity.

While some developing countries have pushed for greater recognition of their efforts to deal with the impacts of climate change for several years, a concrete way of doing so has proven elusive. At COP24, it was agreed that the synthesis report prepared by the secretariat for the global stocktake would include information on the adaptation efforts of developing countries (including an assessment of support needs for adaptation). The information will be drawn from “the most recent documents that may contain adaptation information”, which could include adaptation communications, NAPs, National Communications, NDCs, other reports prepared under the transparency framework, and reports of the IPCC and other relevant scientific bodies.

In view of greater coherence of institutional arrangements, it was agreed that the Adaptation Committee and the LEG will serve the Paris Agreement. Institutional arrangements related to finance, technology development and transfer, and capacity-building, are encouraged to strive for a balance between adaptation and mitigation. The Consultative Group of Experts and the LEG are invited to work together on training for assessing vulnerability and other aspects of adaptation. The Adaptation Committee is invited to continue making recommendations on ways to enhance collaboration, and promote coherence and synergies of adaptation-related institutions.

Role of the Adaptation Fund

It was decided that the Adaptation Fund, set up under the Kyoto Protocol, shall serve the Paris Agreement from 1 January 2019. Further, it will exclusively serve the Paris Agreement once the share of proceeds under Article 6.4 of the Paris Agreement become available. It will, however, continue to receive the share of proceeds, if available, from the CDM of the Kyoto Protocol. Developing and developed country Parties to the Paris Agreement will be eligible for membership to the Adaptation Fund Board (AFB) – this matter will be considered by SBI50 in June 2019, and a recommendation will be forwarded to the fifteenth Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP15) in November 2019. The AFB is requested to consider the rules of procedure of the Board in this light. Their recommendations will be considered by CMP15, and then by CMA2 in November 2019.

Loss and Damage

While there was no specific outcome on loss and damage at Katowice, important advances were made on this issue: references to loss and damage have been included in the transparency mechanism and global stocktake. The rules for the transparency framework state that interested Parties may provide, as appropriate, information related to enhancing understanding, action and support, on a cooperative and facilitative basis, to avert, minimise and address loss and damage associated with climate change impacts. The global stocktake may take into account, as appropriate, efforts to avert, minimise and address climate-related loss and damage. These two additions came as a result of heavy lifting by small island developing States (SIDS) and LDCs, who argued that the inclusion of Article 8 (on loss and damage) in the Paris Agreement meant that the issue should be considered in the context of overall implementation of the Agreement, including in its review mechanisms.

adapted from an ECBI brief

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