Legal and Policy Challenges for the World Economy
New Horizons in Environmental and Energy Law series
Edited by Benjamin J. Richardson, Yves Le Bouthillier, Heather McLeod-Kilmurray and Stepan Wood
Chapter 6: Supporting Adaptation in Developing Countries at the National and Global Levels
Jolene Lin* INTRODUCTION 1. International climate change negotiations and treaty-making have historically focused on the mitigation of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. There was concern during the Kyoto Protocol negotiations that too much discussion about adaptation to climate change would send the wrong signal of fatalistic acceptance of the impacts of climate change and detract attention from efforts to create legally binding emission reduction obligations amongst developed countries (Parry, et al., 1998, p. 741).1 Further, countries proposing adaptation at the negotiating table ran the risk of indicating a lack of commitment towards limiting their GHG emissions and being branded ‘closet polluters‘ (Burton, 2003, p. 3). The adaptation approach was therefore associated with a ‘fatalistic and optimistic view’, akin to a ‘do nothing’ strategy, but also with ‘faith in scientific progress’ as technical and technological developments were considered to provide adaptation solutions (Tarlock, 1992, p. 172). However, in the face of irrefutable scientific evidence that climatic changes are already underway, as well as forecasts of the potentially dire physical impacts of global warming, adaptation has become an equally important issue within climate change discourse and policy.2 The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Secretariat has devoted significant resources towards promoting and supporting adaptation activities in developing and least developed countries; development agencies are beginning to ‘mainstream’ adaptation within their existing activities; non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are spearheading local capacity-building initiatives and developing projects to help vulnerable communities adapt to climate change (Klein, 2008; Gigli and Agrawala, 2007). This chapter examines...
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