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  • Author: Shiva Polefka, Gwynne Taraska
  • Publication Date: 01-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for American Progress - CAP
  • Abstract: In December 2015, world leaders convened in Paris to adopt a historic agreement to limit carbon pollution and adapt to the effects of climate change. The promise of the agreement lies in the fact that it establishes a framework to drive progress, requiring successive national goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prescribing ongoing national submissions on climate resilience. It defines a new era of multilateral climate action. Successive national goals, however, are insufficient for the success of the agreement, even if they are increasingly ambitious. Success requires implementation, and implementation requires investment. A fundamental shift in finance flows will be necessary to achieve climate resilience and carbon neutrality on a global scale. Finance for adaptation to climate change is a particular concern, as it historically has trailed finance for emissions reductions by a large margin. Whereas the private sector provides the majority of global renewable energy investment, there is comparatively limited evidence of private investment in resilience efforts, which partly explains the imbalance. In Paris, nations showed an unprecedented recognition of the adaptation challenge. Despite their sometimes marked differences, countries coalesced around a common set of values—that adaptation and adaptation finance should be elevated; that the needs of the most vulnerable regions and populations should be prioritized; and that nonstate actors should be engaged to the greatest extent possible in the global climate effort. These values are reflected not only in the agreement itself, but also in a wave of commitments from both governments and the private sector. There are therefore grounds for guarded optimism that the Paris era could come to represent a collective pivot toward more adequate levels of resilience finance for the developing countries that are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. This brief examines the gap in adaptation finance that must be bridged in order to fulfill the values of the Paris agreement, with a focus on regions such as Southeast Asia that are at particular risk from the effects of climate change. It also discusses new adaptation finance commitments from governments and the private sector; the landscape of existing adaptation finance channels and initiatives onto which these commitments build; and the undiminished role of developed countries—such as the United States, Japan, EU countries, and others—to facilitate an increase in adaptation finance as the Paris era begins.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Environment, Finance, Paris Agreement
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: John Norris, Carolyn Kenney
  • Publication Date: 02-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for American Progress - CAP
  • Abstract: 2015 was a remarkable year for international diplomacy and multilateralism, culminating in two major compacts on climate change and the global development agenda: The Paris agreement on climate and the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals. In 2016, international efforts will focus on an area that will likely prove even more contentious and where the international system is fraying badly under the weight of current crises: the system of providing humanitarian relief around the globe in response to both man-made and natural disasters. Throughout 2016, world leaders and other international actors are set to participate in a number of high-level meetings and discussions to assess the state of humanitarian assistance. Their efforts will seek to improve the delivery of aid and address myriad underlying issues, ranging from how best to protect civilians in war zones to the effect of climate change on forced migration. The global scope of forced migration has already risen to severe levels, with most forecasts suggesting that the worst is yet to come. According to U.N. estimates, some 60 million people are now forcibly displaced, either as refugees, internally displaced persons, or asylum seekers. This is the highest level of forced migration the international community has faced since World War II, and the rate of displacement does not appear to be waning. This issue brief spells out the timeline of major upcoming events related to the humanitarian agenda in 2016 and discusses the scope of the major challenges the international community faces, including a lack of resources, repeated patterns of deliberate attacks on civilians, and a caseload that continues to expand rapidly. It also explores some of the issues that will likely prove most difficult to resolve given the current approach to reform, in which major structural changes—particularly to the U.N. system that helps deliver humanitarian aid—are largely off the table. Despite the enormous difficulties ahead, growing the number of actors involved in addressing humanitarian crises is the likely path to success.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Development, Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Sustainable Development Goals, Multilateralism
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Peter Ogden, Gwynne Taraska, Ben Bovarnick
  • Publication Date: 04-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for American Progress - CAP
  • Abstract: An idiosyncrasy of the international negotiations under the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, or UNFCCC, is that its annual Conference of the Parties, or COP, is hosted by a different country each year. The host country serves as the COP president and takes the lead both in shaping the broader themes of the session and in managing the mechanics of the negotiation process. Naturally, each host country wants to preside over a successful conference and leave its mark on the process going forward. Last year’s host, France, left quite a mark: a new international agreement to address climate change. This year—in which Morocco assumes the role of COP president—will be different. When countries convene in the city of Marrakech in early November 2016, they will do so with far less of the fanfare that surrounded last year’s Paris conference—and without the need to negotiate a new agreement. Morocco has indicated that it perceives this year’s COP to be part of a trilogy that began at the COP hosted in Lima, Peru, in 2014. Hakima El Haite, Moroccan minister delegate to the minister of energy, mining, water, and environment, has claimed that “Lima is the COP [of] negotiations, Paris is one of decisions,” and COP 22 “will be the Action Conference.” However, COP 22 will not only be the final installment of the COP trilogy that El Haite envisioned, but also the first COP in a long line of conferences focused on the implementation of the Paris agreement. Morocco therefore has the opportunity to establish a successful model for future COPs faced with this task.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Environment, International Cooperation, United Nations, Paris Agreement
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Tom Daschle, Michael Werz
  • Publication Date: 04-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for American Progress - CAP
  • Abstract: In 2010, President Barack Obama’s National Security Strategy, or NSS—the periodic planning document that assesses the risks facing the country and outlines the United States’ response—for the first time recognized climate change as a security threat. The document noted that, “The danger from climate change is real, urgent and severe,” arguing that “[t]he change wrought by a warming planet will lead to new conflicts over refugees and resources.” The framing of the threat was exceptionally strong for the carefully worded NSS document; previous strategy documents in 2006 and 2002 mentioned climate change only briefly in the context of spending on new technology and natural disasters. The 2010 acknowledgment of new, nontraditional threats linked to climate change marked a turning point in the security community’s thinking about these issues. Over the past six years, analysts have accelerated their study of how these changes may affect international institutional architecture and shape geopolitical power. However, the international community still finds itself in largely uncharted waters, which requires new analytical approaches, data and mapping tools, and academic studies. But already, this nascent field points to the need to fundamentally rethink how our foreign and security policies intersect with access to water, agricultural production, food markets, transportation networks, and development projects.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Environment, International Cooperation, Food Security
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Publication Date: 05-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for American Progress - CAP
  • Abstract: Today, the effects of climate change on domestic agriculture are felt through events such as droughts, wildfires, heavy downpours, and greater occurrences of pests. Emissions of greenhouse gases from agricultural processes amount to 9 percent of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and have increased 11 percent since 1990. Thus, as the United States moves forward with the rest of the world to respond to climate change, the agriculture sector will face the dual challenge of reducing emissions and enhancing resilience to climate change. This will require more sustainable agricultural practices—often referred to as climate-smart agriculture. This fact sheet describes how the recently established Paris climate agreement relates to the agriculture sector, along with the opportunities that climate-smart agriculture presents.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Climate Change, Environment, Paris Agreement
  • Political Geography: Global Focus