Mind the gaps: strengthening adaptation in the critical decade

By: Carla Gomes

As we enter 2023 in full speed, we realise that our ‘critical decade’ for substantial climate action is shrinking fast. Emissions needed to be reduced by 45% by 2030, towards net zero by 2050, to keep the global temperature rise under 1,5º. At the last annual conference of the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), the COP27, that ‘ideal target’ was abandoned in practice, but even 2º is now unlikely. As emissions keep rising, the fossil fuel industry is under increasing pressure to decarbonise or shut the door. Adaptation is now unavoidable, but there are critical adaptation gaps that we will have to address over the remaining years up to 2030. We discuss some of them in this post.

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Crise climática e adaptação justa: o momento da verdade

Por Carla Gomes

A COP26 – Conferência das Nações Unidas sobre Alterações Climáticas – realiza-se finalmente entre 31 de Outubro e 12 de Novembro, em Glasgow – e é aguardada com enorme expectativa. A pandemia da COVID-19, que forçou o adiamento da COP por um ano, veio agravar as desigualdades e sublinhar as limitações da solidariedade internacional, que há muito se tinham tornado evidentes na gestão da emergência climática. Enquanto os media internacionais enalteciam Portugal por ser o primeiro país a atingir 85% da população vacinada contra a COVID-19, um português com responsabilidades acrescidas, o secretário-geral da ONU António Guterres, considerava “inaceitável” o fosso entre os países ricos e pobres nas taxas de vacinação. A adaptação justa ganha agora ainda mais significado e sentido de urgência.

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Adaptation and human development: looking at the climate crisis from the perspective of capabilities

By Carla Gomes

We have got used to seeing human development as some kind of ladder, where gradual improvement in quality of life is the only desirable and reasonable outcome. However, the unprecedented crisis of climate change threatens to hinder longstanding gains in poverty alleviation, health and food security, at worldwide level. The ‘climate emergency’ has a direct impact on the availability of resources, shrinking liveable territory and making it all the more challenging to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Looking at this problem through the lens of capabilities – our opportunities to lead a life we have reason to value – helps to clarify the multiple ways in which climate change hinders human development, or how the ‘blind spots’ of climate-related policies may reinforce existent vulnerabilities. Conversely, it unveils how our personal and social strengths, often less visible, can serve as adaptation capabilities.

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