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Environment Magazine September/October 2008


May-June 2010

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Copenhagen and the Governance of Adaptation

For many countries and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) attending Copenhagen, a primary objective was to secure funds for adaptation and a system for managing them. As hopes for deep cuts in emissions receded, concern about coping with the impacts of climate change increased, and funds for adaptation were seen as a key response both to the moral claims of the most vulnerable countries and as a political bargaining chip to encourage support for deals over mitigation.

In the run up to Copenhagen, and within the negotiating tracks for both the post-2012 Kyoto Protocol and the wider Bali Action Plan, considerable progress was made on adaptation, but with some profound disagreements about the amount of funds needed, where they would come from, who would administer them, and who would receive them. Confusion about the status of the Copenhagen Accord, together with slow progress on other aspects of the negotiations, left the future of adaptation, along with other issues, largely unresolved as of early 2010.

Professor Diana Liverman is the co-Director of the Institute of the Environment at the University of Arizona and a senior research fellow with the Environmental Change Institute at Oxford University. She is a geographer who has published extensively on climate vulnerability and climate policy, especially with regard to food security, Latin America, and development.

Simon Billett works for a multilateral development agency giving climate change policy support to governments. He holds a Masters in Environmental Change and Management from Oxford University.

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