By Kristina Henly, Wilton Park Lead Policy Officer
During my time at Wilton Park, I’ve been privileged to meet incredible people from across the globe who share my passion for climate and the environment. It gives me hope that there are dedicated people working tirelessly to make a difference, and who come to our dialogues to share their experiences and create change.
Action on the climate crisis is needed now. The recent IPCC Sixth Assessment Synthesis Report states that it is likely that warming will exceed 1.5°C during the 21st century and make it harder to limit warming below 2°C. Every increment of global warming will intensify multiple and concurrent hazards.
We are in the 21st century; it’s happening now. We all collectively need to make conscious changes within the next 10 years to reduce the devastating impacts. Wilton Park has a critical role in supporting climate diplomacy to build political consensus and commitment, and ensure that action is taken.
Key messages from the IPCC report:
The IPCC report clearly highlights that climate change is a threat to human well-being and planetary health. Our activities are responsible for increasing surface temperatures, affecting weather and climate extremes worldwide. This is causing adverse impacts to nature and people worldwide, but disproportionately affects those who have historically contributed least to climate change. Current adaptation and mitigation efforts are falling short of what is urgently needed to reduce warming and global financial flows are insufficient to meet our climate goals.
Speed and urgency are needed to make change. With every increase in temperature, the risk and adverse impacts escalate. Greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced. Mitigation efforts must increase and implementation of adaptation plans must be accelerated. Transition sectors must secure a sustainable future for all. Action this decade will make the difference for people and nature.
Equitable climate action is critical. Prioritising equity, social inclusion and just transition processes leads to more sustainable outcomes and supports transformative change. Equitable and just actions greatly support those who are most vulnerable to climate shocks. Aligning climate actions to sustainable development offers many benefits and all efforts towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can be made redundant if they’re not climate resilient.
For climate action to be effective, the decision makers need to be aligned and committed to clear goals. Governments need to work across levels and domains on institutional frameworks, policies, and strategies.
Current levels of climate financing are inefficient. To meet our climate goals and reduce warming, more funds need to be redirected to climate action. These funds need to reach those most in need.
Wilton Park’s work
Climate finance is a key feature of recent and upcoming Wilton Park events. In March this year, we convened a dialogue on the breakthrough COP27 agreement on ‘loss and damage’ funding. This agreement will provide funding for vulnerable countries hit hard by climate disasters they cannot avoid or adapt to. Our dialogue focused on the impact of this moment, and what further actions are needed to make it truly transformational.
It’s imperative that loss and damage funding does not repeat the mistakes of other climate funds, which are difficult to access at local level. This money is needed now, not in five years. The international community and the Transitional Committee will have their work cut out to define exactly what loss and damage financing should look like.
It is important to build on the momentum of solidarity among the international community, but also to empower local communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis. They have the first-hand experience and knowledge of responding to climate impacts. National governments will need to work effectively with local level actors, to ensure those who know how best to respond in their area can access funds.
This week, we will host a dialogue focusing on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) which are on the frontline of climate change. Stewarding one third of the world’s oceans, SIDS are vulnerable to economic and climate shocks and lack access to finance that would help them adapt to climate change.
Our dialogue will convene high-level representative from SIDS, development partners and multilateral leaders, to build consensus for improved access to finance for the most vulnerable states as part of the journey towards the 2024 SIDS Summit.
Climate change is not a problem for our future selves. It’s a problem to solve today. It will continue to affect us all more severely if action is not taken in the next ten years. Decisions need to be made with urgency, equity, and political commitments, while ensuring the financial resources are there to implement them.
Wilton Park will continue to wield its convening power to ensure momentum isn’t lost, bringing together government officials, policy makers, academics, civil society and those on the frontline of climate change to develop actions and solutions to climate threats.
The time to act is now, and every minute counts.