The COP (Conference of the Parties) annual meeting held in Warsaw this year, deemed COP19, had a number of items on the agenda pertaining to combating environmental degradation. One of the agenda items that is fairly new under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is adaptation, which saw some initiatives for advancement in Warsaw. COP19 expanded on adaptation by conducting workshops to showcase achievements already seen as well as negotiating a new loss and damage provision. National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) were established at COP17 in Durban to assist countries in assessing vulnerability to climate change and implementing measures for adaptability. The NAP contains four main elements: (1) laying groundwork and addressing gaps, (2) preparing preparatory elements, (3) creating implementation strategies, and (4) reporting, monitoring and reviewing data.
The main element I want to highlight in regard to its relationship with components discussed in our class on environmental economics is the stage in preparing preparatory elements for the NAP. Making decisions in favor of mitigation or adaptation in regard to climate change is a core component of an environmental economists work. In order to effectively prepare a NAP, questions pertaining to adaptation options must be answered, and in order to do so the organization, possible environmental economists, or party preparing for the NAP must use some of the economic tools for decision-making. In class, we looked at Cost-Effective analysis, Cost-Benefit Analysis, and Multi-Criteria Analysis as tools often used in environmental economics and decision-making. To pick out which tool is used would likely be misleading, as all of them are prone to use at one stage or another.
Presentations at COP19 attempted to answer questions directed towards adaptation plans and their cost-benefit in a manner that confirmed their worth. In a summary of some of the conference activities, the observer delegation from the Vermont Law School reports the presenters proclaim, “Emergency responses to remedy damage from climate change can be even more expensive than investing in adaptation measures. Climate change impacts, like the recent Typhoon Haiyan, often cause GDP to decrease, as developing country governments spend their limited budgets on disaster relief. By investing in adaptation up front, disasters do less damage when they hit, so not as much money is spent on reactive remedies.”In other words, the benefits undoubtedly outweigh the costs.
I can imagine in some examples used throughout the conference that there were extensive cost-benefit analysis performed, or even further, multi-criteria analysis covering the many alternatives and magnitudes of certain adaptations. The observers from the Vermont Law School provide an example, saying, “Bangladesh is currently working on a NAP that looks at health security, disaster management practices, and infrastructure. It currently experiences storm surges and flooding, which impacts crops and food security.” Clearly, various items must be looked at in preparing for this NAP, so there is likely a multi-criteria analysis being performed. Going forward, it seems that the UNFCCC will push for more adaptation measures to be paired with mitigation in order to further combat climate change effects, especially in so-called developing countries.
Photo source: UNFCCC Flickr