Climate negotiations on adaptation headed along divergent paths

Countries make little headway due to fundamental differences between developed and developing nations

By Arjuna Srinidhi
Published: Thursday 04 December 2014

Photo courtesy: IISD Reporting Services

The second day of the Lima summit saw a heated debate take place between developed and developing countries, particularly on the issue of adaptation. Discussions during the session on the Ad hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform (ADP) exceeded working hours on December 2 and were continued the following day. Despite the extension, there was no consensus even on fundamental issues of adaptation.

Negotiators from Tuvalu and Chile stressed the need to have a long-term global goal on adaptation. But developed countries such as New Zealand, Norway and Canada opposed, saying that adaptation should be part of each country’s national planning.

Saudi Arabia, Zambia, Ghana, Ecuador and India strongly supported having “differentiation” in commitments and actions of countries, in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).  This was, however, opposed by countries such as Switzerland and New Zealand who felt commitments from developed countries should facilitate “preparation for adaptation” without being burdensome. 

On including loss and damage provisions, there were again considerable differences of opinion. Pacific island nation Tuvalu said that the issue of loss and damage is very different from adaptation and hence, it should have a clear and separate mention in the text of the agreement. These thoughts were echoed by Pacific island nation Nauru, Timor-Leste in south eastern Asia and Chile, which also wanted the loss and damage provisions to be part of the legally binding framework as opposed to only being part of the Warsaw mechanism.

Australia and New Zealand said they couldn’t support an agreement that separates the issue of loss and damage from adaptation. The EU and the US also seemed to indicate a preference for this stance by asking for the option to drop any mention of loss and damage from the text being negotiated.

India’s position on adaptation

Speaking at the second sitting of the session, India began by highlighting the seriousness with which the country treats adaptation. It mentioned important policy interventions such as the National Action Plan on Climate Change (adopted in 2008) and sub-national level plans such as the State Action Plans on Climate Change and the new national adaptation fund to support implementation of adaptation at the state and national levels.

India asked for a balanced treatment of adaptation—with not only a balance between adaptation and mitigation, but also between finance, legally binding statements and a sense of urgency. India also said that it is very important for countries to agree to a long-term goal on adaptation to be incorporated into the global climate agreement.

What is the difference between adaptation and mitigation?

Adaptation is the process of adjustment to actual or expected climate and its effects in order to either lessen or avoid harm. Mitigation is the process of reducing emissions of greenhouse gases.

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