(Image: Private Media)

COP26 in Glasgow has four core areas of discussion: securing net zero; adaptation; mobilising finance; “work together”. The second -- adaptation --is perhaps the most concrete, but also the least discussed.

According to the official program, discussions of adaptation will revolve around working together to enable and encourage countries affected by climate change to:

  • protect and restore ecosystems
  • build defences, warning systems and resilient infrastructure and agriculture to avoid loss of homes, livelihoods and even lives.

The first point to note about this is that adaptation is important even when we take aggressive action to reduce emissions. In the language of economics, emissions reduction and adaptation are complements not substitutes -- doing more of one makes it easier to do more of the other. It’s going to be a lot easier to successfully build resilient infrastructure and agriculture if climate change is less bad than predicted. And there will be more bang for the buck in working towards net zero if we can adapt more effectively to the effect of climate change from which we can’t escape.