Greater support for most vulnerable required in global climate negotiations

Monday, December 17, 2018

By Naomi Johnson, Foodgrains Bank policy advisor

KATOWICE—For the past two weeks, most nations of the world gathered in Poland for the global conference on climate change.  While they’ve made progress on how countries will operationalize their commitments on climate change, it’s unclear is how people in developing countries, already experiencing severe impacts, will be supported.

During negotiations we heard from small-island developing states where losses from a hurricane are more than double their annual GDP (Gross Domestic Product), and from least developed countries increasingly faced with loss of life, high costs, and food insecurity due to the escalating effects of drought, flooding, and storms.

These accounts put a human face on the special report published by global scientists earlier this year, which outlined the catastrophic impacts a changing climate is expected to have on biodiversity, human health, and poverty within the next 12 years.

For Canadian Foodgrains Bank, this means millions more people in developing countries will be in need of support, moving us away from the vision of a world without hunger. In fact, we are already seeing hunger levels increasing after years of decline, partly due to the impacts of climate change. Yet, those most affected by climate change are least responsible for its impacts.

Despite these facts, commitments by developed countries fall short of what is needed to  address these impacts. Developed countries need to reaffirm their commitment to scaling up climate finance which supports the poorest and most vulnerable and increasing adaptation efforts. Those most impacted by climate change need new and additional funding that is predictable and in the form of grants, not loans. Acknowledging the need to address loss and damage that continues to result from climate change, particularly in developing countries and small island states, is an important part of a fair and just response.

While Canada has made commitments on mitigation efforts to reduce fossil fuel emissions, we have not shown the same enthusiasm for international support on adaptation. We can do more to live up to our commitments to help those most vulnerable.

The Foodgrains Bank has a special role to influence negotiations on climate change, as Canadians who work in solidarity with those in developing countries, particularly small-scale farmers who are at the forefront of climate impacts.

While negotiations on global climate change are fraught with challenges, it is promising to see that governments and citizens from around the world can come together in recognition that they need to do more.

As UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres concluded, “Climate change is moving faster than we are… We must never give up.”

The Foodgrains Bank will do its part, in continuing to urge greater support for those who need it most.

Naomi Johnson, Policy Advisor