Paris Agreement through a disaster risk reduction lens

What do the Paris Agreement targets mean for disaster risk reduction? Our short report explores both the targets and priorities in the context of DRR.

Conclusion

If harmonisation is achieved, the Paris agreement and the Sendai framework reinforce each other in terms of their implementation. It will hardly lead to effective action if the amounts of money pledged are not increased!

Paris Agreement overview

Goals

  • Limit the global average temperature increase to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C (mitigation) with the aims to reduce the risks as well as the possible negative consequences of climate change, increase the ability to climate change adaptation and direct financial flows to low-carbon and climate-resilient development. (Article 2)
  • Achieve a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases (GHG neutrality) in the second half of this century. (Article 4)
  • Time horizons • 2015–2030 for NDCs, 2025 for the mobilisation of 100 Bill. USD/year financial flows from private and public sources.
  • Agreement type • Pledge and review – bottom up.
  • Stakeholders • Ministries and government agencies, different sectoral experts, private sector actors, NGOs, local stakeholders and international partners.

Monitoring, assessment and reporting

Preparatory stage:

  • 2015: Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) submitted.
  • 2018: Facilitative Dialogue (Talanoa Dialogue).
  • 2020: Communication (for 2025 targets) and update (for 2030 targets) of the NDCs pledges.

Executive Stage (ratchet mechanism):

  • 2023: 1st Global Stocktake (on mitigation, adaptation and finance flows).
  • 2025: Submission of the third round of climate pledges.
  • 2028: 2nd Global Stocktake.

Monitoring instruments:

  • Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs, Art. 4.2).
  • National Adaptation Plans (NAPAs, Art. 7.9) / Adaptation Communication (NDCs, Art. 7.10 incl.): Each party submits and updates its priorities, implementation and support needs, national plans and actions on adaptation, without creating any additional burden for developing country Parties.

1. DRR targets in the Paris Agreement (PA)

Specific targets in the areas of climate change adaptation & loss and damage.

Global goal on adaptation (Article 7): Enhancing adaptive capacity, strengthening resilience and reducing vulnerability to climate change, with a view to contributing to sustainable development and ensuring an adequate adaptation response in the context of the temperature goal referred to in Article 2. Parties recognise that adaptation is a global challenge faced by all with local, subnational, national, regional and international dimensions.

What does it mean for disaster risk reduction (DRR)?

  • In a globally connected world, climate risks are affecting people, ecosystems and economies across borders, which requires international cooperation in adapting to climate change. “Specifically, the UNFCCC remains a critical space for coordinating global action on climate change, including building resilience and adapting to the adverse effects of a warmer world.” (Benzie, M. et al, 2018)
  • “The Paris agreement also commits the EU to engage directly in more joint action, given that the EU is a federation of states with a nationally determined contribution and is thus treated as an entity with responsibility in adaptation planning as well. It must report jointly, then, and account for its actions towards the international community if climate adaptation targets in Europe are not met. This requires a joint set of adaptation policies and joint strategies for mitigating the damage caused by climate change impacts, including the development of insurance solutions.” (Schwarze, R., 2017)
Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage (Article 8): Recognise the importance of averting, minimising and addressing loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change, including extreme weather events and slow onset events.

Comprehensive risk assessment, risk insurance facilities and climate risk pooling are important tools not only for the Paris Agreement, but also for the Sendai Framework of DRR.

What does it mean for disaster risk reduction (DRR)?

  • Humanitarian and food aid make up roughly 13% of Official Development Assistance (ODA) (OECD 2016a, p.154), some of which may be spent in the wake of disasters that could be attributed to climate change, and could therefore be considered as finance for loss and damage activities. (Richards J.A., Schalatek L., 2017; OECD, 2016)
  • It’s important that loss and damage strategies and programs are as impactful as possible for people on the ground.
  • To avoid duplication and unnecessary complication, political and institutional coordination in these various areas will be needed. (Richards J.A., Schalatek L., 2017)

Loss and damage diagram

Image redrawn from Benzie et al, 2018.<?p>

2. Priority actions of the PA

Priority actions in the areas of climate change adaptation & loss and damage.

Priority 1. Comprehensive risk assessment and management (in particular in the areas of food production poverty and inequality, deforestation and forest degradation, scarcity of the natural resources).

What does it mean for disaster risk reduction (DRR)?

  • Fostering community risk assessments (CRAs): “CRAs can help address existing challenges by fostering community engagement in climate risk reduction, particularly given that many strategies to deal with current climate risks also help to reduce vulnerability to climate change. Climate change can also be explicitly incorporated in CRAs by making better use of CRA tools to assess trends, and by addressing the notion of changing risks.” (Van Alst, M.K., Cannon, T., Burton I., 2008)
  • “(…) both [CCA & DRR] have an interest in minimising loss and damages incurred through extreme weather events that are through short-term climate variability or more profound, slow onset processes influenced by climate change. The incorporation of DRR expertise in implementation could help to increase the pace at which CCA efforts move from planning to action. Meanwhile, DRR can also learn from the long-term perspectives of CCA in order to ensure that DRR activities align with shifting climatic realities, and not just historical experience.” Shamsuddoha et al. 2013.
Priority 2. Resilience of communities, livelihoods and ecosystems.

What does it mean for disaster risk reduction (DRR)?

  • “Resilience to climate variability and climate change provides common ground for DRR and CCA upon which more coherent actions can be built. Building the culture and practice of resilience goes beyond reducing the consequences of foreseeable events, but which also builds resilience into systems to recover and adapt when adverse events occur. Climate change – both mitigation and adaptation – actions contribute to closing the ‘resilience gap’ by managing unavoidable and helping to avoid unmanageable changes.” (Mysiak et al. 2018)
Priority 3. Early warning systems, emergency preparedness.

What does it mean for disaster risk reduction (DRR)?

  • The need for better climate and weather information, including early warning systems, is recognised in the Paris Agreement (Article 7) and funded by its financial mechanism – the Green Climate Fund (GCF). The Climate Risk and Early Warning Systems (CREWS) initiative, launched during the UNFCCC negotiations in 2015, aims to significantly increase the availability of and access to multi-hazard early warning systems and disaster risk information and assessments to people by 2030. By 2020, all relevant Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are expected to have at least moderate early warning system. Climate financing is needed to fund these systems in LDCs and SIDS.
  • At the same time, better climate and weather information will in turn create stronger GCF projects in the future. To date (2017), GCF has approved over USD 492 million in projects in LDCs and SIDS that support climate services and early warning systems.
Priority 4. Slow onset events that may involve irreversible and permanent loss and damage.

What does it mean for disaster risk reduction (DRR)?

  • Technical cooperation and new financing mechanisms, in particular at regional level, are needed to reduce disaster risks and improve resilience to climate change. However, funding is a major constraint to addressing these needs and the recent withdrawal of $21 million from the Pacific region will significantly impact the work Pacific Regional Environment Programme carries out on slow-onset events (UNFCCC, 2017).
  • “There are important synergistic interactions between rapid onset and slow onset events that increase the risk of loss and damage , emphasising the relevance of integrated risk management approaches as well as the necessity to develop both short- and long-term planning.” UNFCCC 2012