John Kerry Announces $800 Million For Climate Adaptation at COP21

United Sates pledges $800 million to help world's most vulnerable nations adapt to climate change

It’s “crunch time” here in Paris as the deadline for an historic climate agreement is now just just hours away. With release of the latest draft text this afternoon, the issues of loss and damage and adaptation remain among the core points left for ministers to hammer out by Friday.

In a speech on Wednesday afternoon, Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States will double its climate finance for adaptation to $800 million by 2020. The money will be used to help the world’s most vulnerable countries adapt to the impacts of climate change. As Kerry explained in his speech, it is a “moral responsibility  to adapt and prepare for those impacts and enable the most vulnerable among us to do the same.

“There are countries – we know – for which climate change is an existential threat today,” Secretary Kerry said. “For them, this isn’t a matter of annexes or peak years – it’s a matter of life and death.  Yesterday I met with leaders from the island states – the small island states – who expressed their legitimate concerns that the sea will swallow their nations.  And the fact of the matter is that most of these countries have contributed nothing, or next to nothing, … to the problem in the first place.”

Broad support

Leaders from across the civil spectrum praised Kerry’s comments, suggesting that an ambitious and fair deal in Paris is still very much on the table.  Alden Meyer, director of strategy and policy for the Union of Concerned Scientists  (UCS), said: “Secretary Kerry sounded the right notes on urgency and the need for much greater ambition in coming to grips with the climate crisis,”

“The prize of an ambitious, comprehensive and effective long-term climate agreement is within our grasp,” Meyer continued, “if compromises can be found on the remaining crunch issues. Secretary Kerry has long been a leader on the climate issue, and his leadership will be needed more than ever over the remaining days of the climate talks here in Paris.”

Faith leaders emphasized that an ambitious global commitment to climate adaptation aligns with our values as a nation and as civilized human beings.

“Increasing our commitment to protect the most vulnerable is the right thing to do,” said Rev. Fletcher Harper of GreenFaith. “[It is] deeply consistent with our moral values. Faith communities support this. We’ll let Congress know we support it. And, we’ll push for continuing, increasing support for this vital cause.”

National security expert and Iraq war veteran Jon Powers made the connection between climate change and national security, saying a commitment to adaptation will “increase our national security by ensuring the populations at risk of becoming future threats have the resources needed to address both the root causes and also the consequences of climate change.”

“It is important that we not squander this opportunity to design climate adaptation financing to do the most possible to help societies steer clear of the climate-triggered humanitarian crises that now plague our world. Getting enough money on the table is only part of the solution. Directing that money in support of safe adaptation pathways is just as crucial.”

Still on track

Kerry’s announcement helps send the signal needed as ministers engage on the hardest, yet most essential, elements of a fair and ambitious Paris Outcome. That we have come this far and all eyes remain on the prize is cause for optimism.

As Rachel Cletus, lead economist and climate policy manager with the Climate and Energy program for UCS, told TriplePundit this morning, “By this time in Copenhagen (at COP15), things had already gone off the rails.”

We are still on track. And Kerry’s pledge today for increased climate adaptation funding helps us move forward.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia, under creative commons license 

Tom is the founder, editor, and publisher of and the TDS Environmental Media Network. He has been a contributor for Triple Pundit since 2007. Tom has also written for Slate, Earth911, the Pepsico Foundation, Cleantechnia, Planetsave, and many other sustainability-focused publications. He is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists

One response

  1. It’s good to hear cash is keeping the talks on track. Now, what track is that? Massive infusions of cash around humanitarian crises traditionally play out as donations to large donor-allied corporations and NGOs to provide services to the crises-ridden population. Vey little actually reaches the population in ways that enables them to direct their own lives and make choices about how to live and live well in a changing environment.

    Based on a study of the past I can foresee educational institutions arising to teach, but no resources delivered to the target population to enable them to act on their education. And there is nothing more soothing to a population in crises than to be urged to hold hands and join in the singing of an inspirational hymn. I’m confident in my prediction a significant portion of this money will be used for militarization to manage a desperate and angry population. This will “increase our national security by ensuring the populations at risk of becoming future threats…”

    This is not a different game than was played in the Philippines, Iran, Iraq, or Haiti and many other places not only by the US but all the major powers. The outcomes of those interventions are not the world we want to live in and we should not expect that game played globally will result in an outcome different than when played locally.

    The social crisis we the population of earth are embroiled in must be resolved before we can solve the climate problem, for the social problem is driving the climate problem. The climate talks are not resolving the social problem but expressing and amplifying it. They are on track but not the track to a solution to climate change.

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