Jonathan Pershing’s stated goals for outcomes in Durban include ‘making fully operational the mechanisms outlined in Copenhagen and Cancun’ (those being the Adaptation Committee, the Technology Committee, Green Climate Fund, and efforts towards transparency). As my Duke colleagues have covered well many of the big bullet point items in previous posts, I wish to provide here a few ‘zoomed-out’ observations of the last few days’ proceedings, during which time I’ve been following progress on National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) for developing countries and the work programme on Loss & Damage.
Informal sessions within SBI and a new amalgamation text within the AWG-LCA aim to get the ball rolling on the major executions of the Adaptation Committee: the development, implementation, review, and revision of NAPs for developing countries, based on their National Adaptation Plans of Action. Recent events in LDCs highlight the need for swift adaptation actions in the near-future, while discouraging progress on the mitigation front indicates that long-term adaptation is likely here to stay, reinforcing the need for a robust, comprehensive adaptation plan for developing and developed countries alike.
To highlight a specific and curious development, there have been increased insertions of language regarding the ‘involvement of outside agents and the private sector’ in funding mechanisms across the board. We should be highly suspect of this attempt to offload the near-term responsibility for adaptation and mitigation to the private sector; It seems that the North/South aid relationship is poised to be substantially changed by the continued repacking of aid and a sly shift of responsibility to the invisible hand of the market. The market signals for clean technology are still ramping up, and ‘adaptation’ is usually a bonus word tacked on upon project completion for private investors. In the absence of a Waxmann-Markey-like instrument, progress on clean technology can only be classified as ‘slow and steady’ rather than booming. The private sector will clearly play a vital role in the future implementation of adaptation and mitigation projects, but the pre-2020 landscape still requires ambitious public sector commitments.
Every now and then, we should take a break from the gritty details and step back: I told myself I wouldn’t write an experiential post with breathless descriptions of the COP and all its splendor; if our esteemed guest lecturers were correct throughout the semester, cynicism should closely follow an initial sense of spectacle at these conferences. With the onset of weariness as our first week in Durban comes to a close, next week promises renewed zeal with the arrival of government ministers from across the globe. We hope you’ll continue to follow our progress, and I invite you, gentle reader, to check out my COP-17 Flickr Set where I’ll be posting rather frequent photo and video updates.