The Climate Finance Imperative
While global financial institutions are barely getting to grips with financing a low carbon energy transition, the trajectory of greenhouse gas accumulation in the atmosphere means an even larger economic challenge looms – that of adapting to climate change and achieving resilient economies.
The following “starting principles” are intended as guiding lights to help navigate the fog of uncertainty over how to allocate finance wisely to adaptive measures leading to climate resilience.
- Don’t make it worse
- Consider the social impact
- Try nature
Don’t make the climate problem worse
Many of the most immediately obvious and rapidly deployable adaptive measures involve using more energy and more carbon intensive materials – air conditioning, water pumps, desalination plants, concrete dams, pesticides. It will require forward planning and careful design efforts to avoid maladaptive resilience that makes the underlying problem worse in the long run.
Consider the social impact of climate finance
Adaptation finance will inevitably be scarce in relation to the scale of the problem and with scarce resources come winners and losers. Many of the worst affected by climate change will be those in economies in transition with precarious livelihoods, the physically vulnerable in unplanned neighbourhoods, prone to flooding and difficult to make resilient. If resilience programs are seen to fail sections of society there is a danger to governance and order.
Try nature’s climate adaptation answers
While nature based solutions are not a panacea for climate resilience, they are a good starting point as in many cases they are less carbon intensive and can support biodiverse, productive ecosystems. The bolstering of coastal and riverine vegetation to reduce flood impacts, tree planting within urban landscapes to provide shade and evaporative cooling and the restoration of vegetation on erosion prone slopes are all sensible, perhaps essential measures that can be rolled out at scale. There are also many cases where nature will need support to adapt from the combination of climate change and other human impacts – from tree species composition and fire management in forestry systems, to crop breeding and marine ecosystems.