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COP26: What Is Climate Change Adaptation, And Why Is It Important For Human Survival?

Adaptation measures help in responding to climate change hazards and impacts on the ecosystems and population, say experts

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COP26: What Is Climate Change Adaptation, And Why Is It Important For Human Survival?
At COP26, the countries not only discussed how to limit climate change but also how to adapt to a warmer world and cope with its impacts
Highlights
  • Adaptation efforts are needed to help people cope with climate change: UN
  • Low-income countries tend to be more vulnerable to climate risks: Expert
  • Developed nations have pledged $100 billion/year for climate actions

New Delhi: According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), in the wake of the ‘code red’ warning issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), countries are waking up to the need to be better prepared for climate change impacts and plan climate change adaptation or climate adaptation in a better way. At the ongoing climate summit 26th Conference of Parties (COP26) at Glasgow, the countries have gathered to not only discuss about how to limit global warming but also about how to adapt to a warmer world and cope with impacts of climate change that are already happening, as well as prepare for future impacts. The UNEP has said that there is a need to dramatically boost climate adaptation especially in terms of financing and implementation of adaptation actions. But what is climate change adaptation and why does it matter?

Also Read: Explainer: What Is COP26 And Why Is It So Important For Tackling Climate Change Crisis?

What Does Climate Change Adaptation Mean?

Climate change adaptation refers to making adjustments in ecological, social, or economic systems and make it more resilient to the impact of actual or expected climate change, as per the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Why Is Climate Adaptation Needed?

According to D. Raghunandan, Scientist and a member of the Delhi Science Forum, climate change is a reality that is affecting millions of people across the world and adaptation efforts are needed to help their survival along with curbing emissions. It is required for helping communities prepare for frequent and more intense floods, more wildfires, challenges of the sea-level rise, droughts, heatwaves, cyclones, storms, he said. Mr Raghunandan added,

Adaptation is climate-resilient development. Adaptation efforts are needed to help our farmers cope with the changing rainfall patterns, land degradation, soil nutrient depletion. It is required for helping out tribal communities who are dependent on forests to be prepared for longer spells of forest fires. Adaptation efforts are needed to keep people from losing their house, livelihood and life and keep them from becoming climate refugees. Adaptation measures can help reduce vulnerability.

Also Read: Climate Change Is For Real, Here’s Why We Need To Limit Global Warming And Act Now

What Does Climate Change Adaptation Consist Of?

The IPCC states that effective adaptation require implementing a mix of different measures to strengthen countries’ resilience and adaptive capacities to climate-related hazards such has cyclonic storms, heavy rains, floods, landslides and others. In its fifth Assessment Report, IPCC listed a number of examples of adaptation measures that the countries across the globe can adopt.

Agriculture

According to IPCC, in order to help farmers enhance drought and pest resistance, enhance yields and provide financial safety net, following adaptation options can be adopted:

– Using biotechnology and genetically modified crops
– Subsidized drought assistance; crop insurance

Biodiversity

To enhance capacity for natural adaptation and migration to changing climatic conditions, protecting species potentially at risk due to climate change, IPCC suggests incorporating the following measures in the policy framework:

– Building migration corridors; expansion of conservation areas
– Protection of critical habitat for vulnerable species
– Assisted migration

Coasts

To preserve public health and safety; minimize property damage and risk of stranded assets near coasts, IPCC suggest:

– Building sea walls and coastal protection structures,
– Managed retreat or the controlled flooding of low-lying coastal areas,
– Migration out of low-lying areas

Water Resources Management

Examples for adaptation measures given by IPCC for increasing water resource reliability and drought resilience and enhancing efficiency of available water resources include:

– Desalination which involves taking the salt out of water to make it drinkable
– Water trading
– Water recycling/reuse

Some of the additional examples listed by IPCC include afforestation and reforestation, raising awareness about climate change and integrating this information into education, enhancing social safety nets, establishing food banks and distributing surplus food, strengthening sanitation, drainage system, maintaining early warning and response systems, integrating indigenous climate observations and making community-based adaptation plans among others.

According to Mr Raghunandan, there will be a global stock-take in 2023 which will how effective are the adaptation measures being implemented by various countries and needs to be done to enhance their adaptive capacity.

In India, the government launched the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) in June 2008 THAT encompasses both climate protection and adaptation. According to the central government, the plan defines eight priorities: solar energy, energy efficiency, sustainable housing, water accessibility, preservation of ecosystem in the Himalayas, reforestation, sustainable agriculture, and strategic knowledge management. There are different ministries responsible to implement adaptation plans for these eight priority areas. States have also prepared State-level Action Plans on Climate Change (SAPCC). However, Mr Raghunandan highlighted that the exact adaptation actions taken and the impact of those actions are yet to be understood. He said,

There is a lack of documentation in India in termS of the impact of climate change on the country and the adaptation measures taken. The government was supposed to release a report on this in 2019 but so far, it has been delayed.

Greater Finance Needed For Better Climate Adaptation

Mr Raghunandan said that low-income countries tend to be more vulnerable to climate risks and so need greater adaptation measures. He said that for this, the developed countries must fulfill the commitment made under the 2015 Paris Agreement of providing $100 billion a year to support the developing countries in covering the cost of adaptation, which they have not done till now.

According to an analysis done by the UNEP, the economic cost of climate adaptation is likely to be at the higher ended of an estimated $140 billion to $300 billion a year by the end of this decade, and $280 billion to $500 billion annually by 2050.

Also Read: COP26: What Is Climate Finance And Why Is It Important For Reducing Emissions

NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ populationindigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity,  that is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.

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