Climate change adaptation and resilience: common themes and key messages from London Climate Week.
As Chair of PIANC’s Permanent Task Group on Climate Change, and Focal Point for the PIANC-led Navigating a Changing Climate initiative (https://navclimate.pianc.org/), Jan Brooke attended several virtual sessions on Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience during London Climate Week (1st – 3rd July 2020). Speakers included Ministers, policy makers, scientists, financiers and practitioners. Some of the common themes and key messages arising from these sessions are as follows:
1. COVID-19 lessons learned
COVID-19 has shown we are not resilient. ‘None of us is resilient until we are all resilient’.
We must keep the pressure on for a green, inclusive and resilient recovery – ‘we have a window to act, so let’s use it wisely’. The EU Green Deal is a good example.
2. Time to act
‘We need to act on the science. The world was warned about the likelihood of a pandemic – there have been many other pertinent warnings, including on climate …’. The IPCC has warned that we are on course for a warming in excess of 3 degrees warming by end of the century.
‘We have been planning for the future in the mistaken belief that it will resemble the past’
There is an urgent need to translate political commitments into on-the-ground action – tackling climate change is an existential issue (e.g. for SIDS) – ‘we do not have the luxury of time’
Whilst there are clear leaders, making the jump to mainstreaming adaptation implementation remains a major challenge
‘We know that, with early warning and careful planning, we can significantly reduce impacts’
The ‘case for nature-based solutions has never been stronger’
3. Climate risks and investment decision making
‘There is insufficient urgency in the call for investment in adaptation and resilience – the current approach is piecemeal and (unlike decarbonisation) there are currently no real incentives’
There is a disconnect between long term climate risks and short-term investment imperatives
The risks are perceived as ‘being lower, because insurance or government will step in. This perception leads to inaction’
‘Climate risk disclosure is key but is currently inadequate’: there is a need for more understanding and more depth; for greater granularity; and for improved information on physical risks
Climate risk and adaptation costs need to be embedded in finance decisions on every development
Integrating projections into financial forecasting is a challenge, especially when the past is a poor indicator of the future
‘More effort is needed to monetise the consequences of not acting; and to understand the benefits of improved resilience, including the societal benefits’. This is a major challenge to overcome
4. Adaptation financing
‘The situation regarding adaptation funding is woeful’ – this is a problem for both the private sector and the public sector. Furthermore, the most vulnerable often have least access to finance
There is a massive adaptation financing gap – $250-300 billion USD is needed by 2030 for adaptation in developing countries alone – private sector investment will be critical …