As always though, the devil is in the detail. How these announcements are implemented will be key to how successful they are at building the resilience of the people worst affected by – and least responsible for – climate change.
At a minimum, implementation needs to ensure that the most vulnerable people are involved in the decisions about their lives. This may sound obvious; we know that when we’re not consulted on even small decisions, the outcome may not be what we want it to be. Often though, the international system operates in a way that excludes the most marginalised people from the processes that are intended to reduce their vulnerability.
As a priority, there needs to be proper engagement with communities and civil society as the initiatives are taken forward. In particular, indigenous peoples, women’s networks and smallholder farmer groups should be leading the process.
Developed countries used the Summit to make financial commitments to the international Green Climate Fund and the UK committed to double its climate finance overall.
The UK’s commitment on climate finance is a good example of the challenge with existing climate finance pledges: although the UK committed to double its climate finance overall, all of this will come from the existing international aid budget. It isn’t ‘new’ money.
This is an issue because many developing countries, even with international aid, cannot afford to cover the costs of the basic health, nutrition, education and social protection needed to end extreme poverty. Climate change will make it more expensive for countries to develop, adding further to the costs that developing countries need to cover from limited budgets.
When adaptation costs in developing countries are projected to rise to up to US$300 billion a year by 2030, continuing to source climate finance only from existing international aid cannot be sustainable. We need to get more inventive in tapping into new sources of public finance for climate change adaptation (these could be linked to solutions being put forward to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions).
The Climate Action Summit didn’t give us all the solutions we need. But no one Summit is going to be able to do that; momentum needs to be continued. There are signs this might be possible. The run-up to the Summit saw unprecedented public mobilisation. The majority of the British public are now very concerned about climate change. It isn’t just the “eyes of all future generations” that are upon world leaders, but those of current (and voting) generations too.
Time is getting tighter. When governments reconvene at the international climate talks in Chile later this year and in Glasgow in December 2020, they’ll need to demonstrate that they understand the urgency.