Take a look at four U.S. cities—Boulder, CO.; Salt Lake City, UT; Pinecrest, FL.; and Hoboken, NJ—and it's clear that they are at the frontlines of climate change. But take a closer look and you’ll see that they’re also at the forefront of local climate action.
In most developing economies, Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) employ up to 78 percent of the population and account for approximately 29 percent of the national GDP. Their presence in communities throughout the world– big and small, rural and urban – allows them to get products and services to hard-to-reach populations. This market concentration and high level of employment means MSMEs are in a good position to contribute to making vulnerable populations more climate-resilient.
But while MSMEs can assist in helping vulnerable households adapt to climate change, they are also extremely vulnerable to the impacts of a warmer world, such as intensification of precipitation and shifts in water availability. It’s important that MSMEs overcome these challenges and capitalize on their unique business opportunities in ways that help vulnerable communities adapt to climate change.
Mayors and city officials from Colorado, Florida, New Jersey, and Utah will be participating in an event in Washington D.C. to discuss how cities are being affected by climate change and what they are doing to adapt to these impacts using state-of-the-art technology and design. The event is being organized by the Union of Concerned Scientists and the World Resources Institute.
Multinational companies (MNCs) typically have operations and supply chains in many parts of the world. The way they respond to climate change, therefore, can affect many populations, including poor communities in developing countries, where many people are especially vulnerable to heat waves, sea level rise, and other climate change impacts. MNCs sometimes find themselves in tension with local groups and the environment, but they can also play an important role in making these communities more climate-resilient.
Here are three ways that MNCs can contribute to climate change adaptation in developing countries:
This year’s climate negotiations in Warsaw, Poland (COP 19) were a bit of a mixed bag. On the one hand, the summit’s outcomes were dramatically out of step with the level of action needed to solve the climate change problem. A tempting metaphor for the talks was the national stadium in which they were held– one could go around in endless circles in search of the right location.
On the other hand, the Warsaw COP did achieve the incremental outcomes needed to move the process forward. Negotiators put in place a work plan for securing an international climate agreement at COP 21 in Paris in 2015. The COP also made progress on scaling up climate finance and addressing the difficult issue of loss and damage, a process for addressing climate impacts that are difficult or impossible to adapt to. These are small but important steps toward bringing countries out of their repetitive, circular discussions and closer to agreeing collectively on how to address global climate change.
The nineteenth United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP) is shaping up to be a “construction COP” where nations take steps toward achieving a new global climate agreement by 2015.
Adapting to the impacts of climate change—like heat waves, increased floods, and natural disasters—is an enormous challenge. It’s also one that comes with an enormous price tag. Although it’s difficult to calculate the extent of the costs, the World Bank estimates that developing countries need $70 to $100 billion USD per year through 2050 to meet their current and future climate adaptation needs.
The Climate Policy Initiative, however, estimates that in 2011, only $4.4 billion USD in adaptation finance went to developing countries. This leaves a gap of anywhere from $65.6 to $95.6 billion USD per year between what developing countries need and what developed nations are giving.
So who can help fill this gap?
Strategies to mitigate and adapt to climate change’s impacts will be costly, so success at COP 19 hinges on making progress on climate finance. It’s important that negotiators pursue three actions: scaling up adaptation finance; developing pathways to secure $100 billion in climate finance by 2020; and moving the Green Climate Fund forward.