co-authored with Arun Agrawal
Everyone agrees that innovation and its diffusion of innovations are key to managing climate change. Meeting the climate challenge in the coming decades will be fundamentally more difficult if we fail to come up with new, more cost-effective technologies.
But global efforts to innovate and share existing innovations fall woefully short of what is needed.
Nowhere is the gap between need and reality more glaring than for innovations related to adaptation. Members of climate change community who care about innovation have had their sights firmly fixed on technological innovations on the mitigation side: to reduce and capture emissions, to geo-engineer climate, to make energy use more efficient, to meet global energy needs through alternative and advanced renewable sources ... the list goes on.
Jim Hansen reckons that the ‘democratic process is not working’ towards a climate change solution. Speaking on the eve of joining a climate protest in the UK on March 18, Hansen said in The Guardian:
- “The first action that people should do is to use the democratic process. What is frustrating people, me included, is that democratic action affects elections but what we get then from political leaders is greenwash. […] The democratic process is supposed to be one person one vote, but it turns out that money is talking louder than the votes. So, I'm not surprised that people are getting frustrated. I think that peaceful demonstration is not out of order, because we're running out of time."
|Photo © Scott Wallace/World Bank|
Adaptation involves both preparations and responses to climate change impacts. But how does it differ from simply carrying out "good development"? In many ways, adaptation is good development, at least up to a certain degree of climate change. Sustainable development, if achieved, makes society more resilient to climate stresses and better able to respond to climate impacts. However, one of the main arguments we will make in the next World Development Report is that climate change will challenge the current development paradigm.
The National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPAs) are the most prominent national efforts in the least developed countries (LDCs) to identify priority areas for climate change adaptation. Now that most of the NAPAs have been completed (38 out of 48), it is time to ask if they matter.
The NAPAs were completed at a price tag of near 10 million dollars for preparation and another anticipated 2 billion for implementation. It might appear they are a golden opportunity for the developed world to show that it is serious about supporting adaptation in vulnerable countries. But the NAPA reports continue to sit on the UNFCCC’s website, available to anyone to read but with little prospects of attracting funds for implementation – or so think many who participated in the NAPA process!