This House would, as the developed world, fund African climate adaptation

The latest report (fifth) from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) put the blame for climate change firmly on humanity. The chair of the working group on Physical Science notes “We give very relevant guidance on the total amount of carbon that can't be emitted to stay to 1.5 or 2⁰C. We are not on the path that would lead us to respect that warming target” leading to the UN Secretary General stating “The heat is on. We must act.”[1] Past experience however shows they won’t.

The most obvious alternative is to accept that climate change is coming and to begin preparing for it. Adaptation is “Adjustment in natural or human systems in response to actual or expected climatic stimuli or their effects, which moderates harm or exploits beneficial opportunities.”[2] Adaptation is often thought of being purely physical; building higher sea walls and more resilient infrastructure. But it is much more than that including “diversification of livelihood activities, institutions both formal and informal, adjustments in farming operations… seasonal forecasts… having adequate grain reserves, weather insurance, food price subsidies” etc. This means that adaptation can mean anything from new methods of farming to migrating to areas that are going to see more, not less rainfall.[3]

However any such adaptation is going to be costly so the question of ‘who pays?’ is as prominent in adaptation as it was in reducing emissions. In the Doha summit of 2012 Prime Minister Hailemariam of Ethiopia pointed out that rather than new pledges “We are going to push especially for the powerful countries to implement previous decisions.”[4] The Green Climate Fund is supposed to receive $100billion per year by 2020 but funding is barely reaching $10billion per year.[5] There is no way to force countries to stump up funds to help others prevent the effects of climate change but should the developed world consider itself obliged to meet its obligations and fund adaptation, particularly for the poorest and hardest hit such as Africa?

[1] Harvey, Fiona, ‘IPCC climate report: human impact is 'unequivocal'’, theguardian.com, 27 September 2013, http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/sep/27/ipcc-climate-report-un-secretary-general

[2] Climate Change 2007: Working Group II: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability, ‘Glossary A-D’, ipcc.ch, 2007, http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg2/en/annexessglossary-a-d.html

[3] ‘Climate Change Adaptation in Africa’, adfb.org, 2012, http://www.afdb.org/en/cop/programme/climate-change-adaptation-in-africa/

[4] Government of Ethiopia, ‘Africa Demands Implementation of Climate Change Pledges At Doha’, AllAfrica, 5 December 2012, http://allafrica.com/stories/201212060025.html?aa_source=sptlgt-grid

[5] King, Ed, ‘UN Green Climate Fund opens, concerns remain over finance drought’, Responding to Climate Change, 3 December 2013, http://www.rtcc.org/2013/12/03/un-green-climate-fund-opens-concerns-remain-over-finance-drought/#sthash.2caLuTLD.dpuf

 

Title 
Climate change is already costing lives
Point 

Lives are already being lost to climate change; a report by Climate Vulnerability Monitor estimates that already almost 5million are lost per year to climate change, even without the distorting numbers from pollution there are 400,000 deaths per year.[1] While attributing individual events to climate change is difficult research by climate scientists suggests that the lack long rains in Somalia in early 2011 is between 24 and 99% the result of greenhouse gasses.  This famine has killed between 50 and 100 thousand people.[2] With lives being lost the urgency of funding adaptation to reduce these loses is clear.  

[1] Climate Vulnerability Monitor, ‘A Guide to the cold calculus of a hot planet’, DARA, September 2012, http://www.daraint.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/CVM2ndEd-FrontMatter.pdf, p.17

[2] Straziuso, Jason, ‘Global warming may have fueled Somali drought’, Phys.org, 15 May 2013, http://phys.org/news/2013-03-human-climate-big-factor-somali.html

Counterpoint 

Yes there are almost certainly some casualties already to climate change but almost certainly considerably less than either of these numbers; there have always been casualties due to ‘Heat & Cold Illnesses’ (35000) but are all these attributable to climate change? Probably not. There were extreme weather events even before climate change. Even if there are such deaths this does not amount to meaning the developed world should fund adaptation; just like not every outbreak of violence in Africa should be considered the responsibility of the developed world not every natural disaster is. 

Title 
Africa does not have the resources to protect itself from climate change
Point 

A report by the United Nations Environmental Project estimates that adaptation costs to Africa per year could already be $15billion, reach $50billion by 2050 and anything up to $350billion by 2070. Funding for adaptation to Africa in 2011 was only $454milliion.[1] This is not a gap that Africa can make up itself; in 2010 all spending on education was less than $50billion.[2] Africa can’t afford to adapt itself while responding to an expanding population as well as its existing problems of poverty and disease. It is clear that developed countries that do have the resources have to step it and take responsibility.

[1] Schaeffer, Michiel et al., ‘Summary’, Africa Adaptation Gap Technical Report, United Nations Environmental Project, 2013 http://www.unep.org/roa/Amcen/docs/publications/Africa_Adapatation_Gap.pdf , p.xi

[2] ‘Public spending on education; total (% of GDP) in sub saharan Africa’, Trading Economicshttp://www.tradingeconomics.com/sub-saharan-africa/public-spending-on-education-total-percent-of-gdp-wb-data.html, ‘Gross domestic product 2010’, World Bankhttp://siteresources.worldbank.org/DATASTATISTICS/Resources/GDP.pdf

Counterpoint 

While Africa may not have the resources now to pay for adaptation costs of $50billion or more after another fifty years of economic growth it may do. Africa could afford the current $7-15billion if it were considered necessary.

Title 
The developed world has the responsibility to help others
Point 

The IPCC says that it is “extremely likely” that human activities are the cause of the temperature rise.[1] This means the biggest historical emitters have a responsibility to pay for the consequences. From 1900 to 2004 the United States produced 314,772 million metric tonnes of CO2 compared to China’s 89,243 million metric tonnes and while India now produces more CO2 Germany over the same period emitted three times as much.[2] History matters as much of the CO2 remains in the atmosphere for decades or hundreds of years. It is the responsibility of those who caused the problem to protect innocents from the fallout of their actions.

[1] Harvey, Fiona, ‘IPCC climate report: human impact is 'unequivocal'’, theguardian.com, 27 September 2013, http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/sep/27/ipcc-climate-report-un-secretary-general

[2] Vaughn, Adam, ‘A history of CO2 emissions’, Datablog guardian.co.uk, 2 September 2009, http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/datablog/2009/sep/02/co2-emissions-historical

Counterpoint 

For most of the time they were emitting the west did not have any idea of the consequences. The developed world therefore cannot be held responsible for emissions before the 1980s. On the other hand knowledge of the effects has not prevented developing countries from immensely increasing their emissions. Clearly the developed world is still responsible for more emissions but they are also responsible for developing technologies to reduce emissions such as renewable power. 

Title 
Africa will be among the hardest hit
Point 

The IPCC starts its chapter on Africa “Africa is one of the most vulnerable continents to climate change and climate variability”.[1] It is also the poorest continent in the world so least able to cope. In the GAIN index by the Global Adaptation Institute which measures vulnerability and readiness for climate change eight of the bottom ten are African states.[2] The changes to Africa could be dramatic; 40% of wildlife habitats could disappear, crop yields fall by 5% despite already being the lowest in the world and 70 million are at risk of flooding as sea levels rise.[3] If anywhere needs help from developed countries in adaptation it is Africa.

[1] Boko, Michel, et al., ‘Africa’, Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’, IPCC, 2007, http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/wg2/ar4-wg2-chapter9.pdf, p.435

[2] Gain Index, 2011, http://index.gain.org/ranking

[3] Bloomfield, Steve, ‘Africa ‘will be worst hit by climate change’’, The Independent, 6 November 2006, http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change/africa-will-be-worst-hit-by-climate-change-423143.html

Counterpoint 

Why should developed countries pay because Africa happens to be particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change? Western countries have nothing to do with Africa’s geography and climate change vulnerability. 

Title 
The developed world has the necessary skills
Point 

Many of the areas of adaptation are areas where the west has the relevant expertise; seasonal forecasting, adjusting farming – perhaps by engineering hardier plants, weather insurance etc. Africa does not have experience or experts in many of the relevant areas, for example Africa lags behind in bioscience,[1] so it makes sense for the west to provide these experts. And while they do so the west might as well also pay the cost of these expertise and also provide the necessary skills education and training to overcome these problems.

[1] Wafula, Kevin, ‘Africa still lags behind on bioscience capacities, says Scientist’, Africa Science News, 2011, http://www.africasciencenews.org/en/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=764:africa-still-lags-behind-on-bioscience-capacities-says-scientist-&catid=49:food&Itemid=113

Counterpoint 

The developed world will no doubt be willing to provide expertise and some may even be willing to work pro-bono while doing work for poorer countries. The developed world should not be paying for such work. Providing money to pay for western workers in Africa both invites corruption and is really for the benefit of the developed countries by providing work for western firms.[1] Instead the focus has to be on the transfer of skills to Africans so that they can meet the challenges from climate change themselves.

[1] Moyo, Dambisa, ‘Why Foreign Aid is Hurting Africa’, The Wall Street Journal, 21 March 2009, http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB123758895999200083#articleTabs%3Darticle

Title 
Each country should tackle its own problems
Point 

Every country is going to be affected by climate change in one way or another developed countries included. Australia has often been singled out as being a country that is “anti-climate”[1] but Australia is already being hit by bigger bushfires and sudden floods and the cost on Australian infrastructure is estimated to rise to $9billion per year by 2020 and continue rising,[2] and this is only one small slice of the costs such as crop failures due to drought, health problems – there have already been increases in dengue fever and malaria in Australia.[3] Developed countries which are also going to be severely affected by climate change have a responsibility to their own people first and should not be paying for other countries to adapt.

[1] Readfearn, Graham, ‘Australia slides down to bottom on climate change performance index’, theguardian.com, 18 November 2013, http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/nov/18/australia-climate-change-un-warsaw

[2] The Climate Institute, ‘Coming Ready or Not: Can Australia's infrastructure handle climate change?’, 29 October 2012, http://www.climateinstitute.org.au/articles/media-releases/coming-ready-or-not-can-australias-infrastructure-handle-climate-change.html

[3] Buckley, Ralf et al., ‘Climate response Issues, costs and liabilities in adapting to climate change in Australia.’, Griffith University, 2007, http://www.griffith.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0016/300643/Climate_Response_Issues.pdf, p.24 

Counterpoint 

While countries like Australia are going to be hit by Climate Change they at least have the resources to carry out adaptation on their own. Poor countries don’t have the money so there will not be any adaptation. The result will be more natural disasters and deaths through disease both things that are seen as worthy of providing aid. I would be much better to help prevent these disasters being too severe than waiting until they occur to provide aid.

Title 
Responsibility is not the developed world’s alone
Point 

First developing countries now produce a large share of emissions; China, India and other rising countries should also have to pay. They also at the same time have increasing financial resources. Second even if countries bear responsibility in proportion to emissions it does not follow developed countries should meet the costs of adaptation. People have always adapted to their climate as an essential part of survival[1] and the climate has always been changing even if at a slower rate so why should the developed world pay in this particular instance? That the west should cut its emissions so that it produces no more than the average per capita is equitable. It is however not equitable for one group to have to pay for the adaptation of others to their environment.

[1] Clark, Duncan, ‘What is climate change adaptation?’, theguardian.com, 27 February 2012, http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2012/feb/27/climate-change-adaptation

Counterpoint 

In India 456 million people live on under $1.25 per day,[1] it is absurd to suggest that India despite having higher CO2 emissions than Japan, indeed almost double,[2] should have the same responsibility for cutting emissions, or for paying for the consequences.  

[1] The World Bank, ‘New Global Poverty Estimates – What it means for India’, 26 August 2008, http://go.worldbank.org/51QB3OCFU0

[2] Boden, Tom, and Blasing, T.J., ‘Preliminary CO2 emissions 2010’, Carbon Dioxide Analysis Centerhttp://cdiac.ornl.gov/trends/emis/perlim_2009_2010_estimates.html

Title 
There are other more urgent things to be spending money on
Point 

Money should be spent where it can make most difference. The cost of many methods of adapting to climate change is high compared to the gain. The developed world should focus aid on areas that can do most good rather than on adaptation. Even those who argue that climate change will be very costly and deadly implicitly agree that there are more worthwhile things. In Climate Vulnerability Monitor’s estimates of deaths the vast majority, 3.1million, are due to indoor smoke.[1] This however is something that is not solved through adaptation to climate change but through mitigation; by providing $25 cooking stoves.[2]

[1] Climate Vulnerability Monitor, ‘A Guide to the cold calculus of a hot planet’, DARA, September 2012, http://www.daraint.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/CVM2ndEd-FrontMatter.pdf, p.17

[2] Aroon, P.J., ‘Secretary Clinton is promoting cookstoves to save the world. Seriously’, ForeignPolicy.com, 22 September 2010, http://hillary.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2010/09/21/clinton_is_promoting_cookstoves_to_save_the_world?hidecomments=yes

Counterpoint 

Aid programs are already dealing with most of ‘the low hanging fruit’ in terms of preventing deaths and will continue to do so. However providing aid to other areas does not absolve the west of the need to provide funds for adaptation when they have created the change in the first place.

Title 
Adaptation won’t work
Point 

Adaptation is simply working to reduce the effects of climate change, it will not prevent it from causing damage. Take hurricanes; adaptation would dictate that the buildings should have been made out of stronger materials and sea walls built to stop storm surges. Yet as with any other form of disaster management there is a sensible amount to adapt if building a 10foot sea wall will stop 95% of storm surges is it really worth building one of 20foot for twice the price to stop 99%?

Many forms of adaptation are directly contrary to demographic trends on the continent. Yes hardier crops can be introduced to mitigate the problems of drought but will these also feed a growing population? Yes people can migrate from those areas that will be worst hit but can their neighbours take in the extra people? For example climate change is one cause of drought in the Sahel,[1] to the south rainfall and flooding may actually increase in southern Nigeria though it will be unpredictable.[2] The obvious solution then would be migration from the Sahel south but the UN projects Niger’s population to grow to almost 70million by 2050 and Nigeria’s to 440million,[3] could Nigeria really take the extra population from its northern neighbour as well as its own growth?

[1] Thomas, Alice, ‘Sahel villagers fleeing climate change must not be ignored’, theguardian.com, 2 August 2013, http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/poverty-matters/2013/aug/02/sahel-climate-change-displacement-migration

[2] Uyigue, E., and Agho, M., ‘Coping with Climate Change and Environmental Degradation in the Niger Delta of Southern Nigeria’, Community Research and Development Centre, 2007, http://www.global-greenhouse-warming.com/climate-change-in-Niger-Delta.html

[3] United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, ‘World Population Prospects: The 2012 Revision’, esa.un.orghttp://esa.un.org/wpp/unpp/panel_population.htm (using medium variant)

Counterpoint 

Many places today have not even done the minimum and need funding to help them do so. There can be no denying that some defences can make a big difference; in 1900 Galveston was hit by a hurricane which killed up to 12000 people, 15 years later after the building of a sea wall only 53 people died in a similar hurricane.[1] In many cases this kind of adaptation is simply sensible policy to prevent disasters that should be carried out regardless of climate change.

[1] Morris, Julian, ‘The Terrible Toll of Typhoon Haiyan Doesn't Excuse Bad Policy’, reason.com, 15 November 2013, http://reason.com/archives/2013/11/15/the-terrible-toll-of-typhoon-haiyan-does

Bibliography 

‘Climate Change Adaptation in Africa’, adfb.org, 2012, http://www.afdb.org/en/cop/programme/climate-change-adaptation-in-africa/

Aroon, P.J., ‘Secretary Clinton is promoting cookstoves to save the world. Seriously’, ForeignPolicy.com, 22 September 2010, http://hillary.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2010/09/21/clinton_is_promoting_cookstoves_to_save_the_world?hidecomments=yes

Bloomfield, Steve, ‘Africa ‘will be worst hit by climate change’’, The Independent, 6 November 2006, http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change/africa-will-be-worst-hit-by-climate-change-423143.html

Boden, Tom, and Blasing, T.J., ‘Preliminary CO2 emissions 2010’, Carbon Dioxide Analysis Center, http://cdiac.ornl.gov/trends/emis/perlim_2009_2010_estimates.html

Boko, Michel, et al., ‘Africa’, Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’, IPCC, 2007, http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/wg2/ar4-wg2-chapter9.pdf

Buckley, Ralf et al., ‘Climate response Issues, costs and liabilities in adapting to climate change in Australia.’, Griffith University, 2007, http://www.griffith.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0016/300643/Climate_Response_Issues.pdf

Clark, Duncan, ‘What is climate change adaptation?’, theguardian.com, 27 February 2012, http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2012/feb/27/climate-change-adaptation

Climate Change 2007: Working Group II: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability, ‘Glossary A-D’, ipcc.ch, 2007, http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg2/en/annexessglossary-a-d.html

The Climate Institute, ‘Coming Ready or Not: Can Australia's infrastructure handle climate change?’, 29 October 2012, http://www.climateinstitute.org.au/articles/media-releases/coming-ready-or-not-can-australias-infrastructure-handle-climate-change.html

Climate Vulnerability Monitor, ‘A Guide to the cold calculus of a hot planet’, DARA, September 2012, http://www.daraint.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/CVM2ndEd-FrontMatter.pdf

Gain Index, 2011, http://index.gain.org/ranking

Government of Ethiopia, ‘Africa Demands Implementation of Climate Change Pledges At Doha’, AllAfrica, 5 December 2012, http://allafrica.com/stories/201212060025.html?aa_source=sptlgt-grid

Harvey, Fiona, ‘IPCC climate report: human impact is 'unequivocal'’, theguardian.com, 27 September 2013, http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/sep/27/ipcc-climate-report-un-secretary-general

King, Ed, ‘UN Green Climate Fund opens, concerns remain over finance drought’, Responding to Climate Change, 3 December 2013, http://www.rtcc.org/2013/12/03/un-green-climate-fund-opens-concerns-remain-over-finance-drought/#sthash.2caLuTLD.dpuf

Morris, Julian, ‘The Terrible Toll of Typhoon Haiyan Doesn't Excuse Bad Policy’, reason.com, 15 November 2013, http://reason.com/archives/2013/11/15/the-terrible-toll-of-typhoon-haiyan-does

Moyo, Dambisa, ‘Why Foreign Aid is Hurting Africa’, The Wall Street Journal, 21 March 2009, http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB123758895999200083#articleTabs%3Darticle

Readfearn, Graham, ‘Australia slides down to bottom on climate change performance index’, theguardian.com, 18 November 2013, http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/nov/18/australia-climate-change-un-warsaw

Schaeffer, Michiel et al., ‘Summary’, Africa Adaptation Gap Technical Report, United Nations Environmental Project, 2013 http://www.unep.org/roa/Amcen/docs/publications/Africa_Adapatation_Gap.pdf

Straziuso, Jason, ‘Global warming may have fueled Somali drought’, Phys.org, 15 May 2013, http://phys.org/news/2013-03-human-climate-big-factor-somali.html

Thomas, Alice, ‘Sahel villagers fleeing climate change must not be ignored’, theguardian.com, 2 August 2013, http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/poverty-matters/2013/aug/02/sahel-climate-change-displacement-migration

‘Public spending on education; total (% of GDP) in sub saharan Africa’, Trading Economics, http://www.tradingeconomics.com/sub-saharan-africa/public-spending-on-education-total-percent-of-gdp-wb-data.html

United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, ‘World Population Prospects: The 2012 Revision’, esa.un.org, http://esa.un.org/wpp/unpp/panel_population.htm (using medium variant)

Uyigue, E., and Agho, M., ‘Coping with Climate Change and Environmental Degradation in the Niger Delta of Southern Nigeria’, Community Research and Development Centre, 2007, http://www.global-greenhouse-warming.com/climate-change-in-Niger-Delta.html

Vaughn, Adam, ‘A history of CO2 emissions’, Datablog guardian.co.uk, 2 September 2009, http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/datablog/2009/sep/02/co2-emissions-historical

Wafula, Kevin, ‘Africa still lags behind on bioscience capacities, says Scientist’, Africa Science News, 2011, http://www.africasciencenews.org/en/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=764:africa-still-lags-behind-on-bioscience-capacities-says-scientist-&catid=49:food&Itemid=113

‘Gross domestic product 2010’, World Bank, http://siteresources.worldbank.org/DATASTATISTICS/Resources/GDP.pdf

The World Bank, ‘New Global Poverty Estimates – What it means for India’, 26 August 2008, http://go.worldbank.org/51QB3OCFU0

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