More than Just Money

Remembering Equity and Justice in International Adaptation Policy Charlotte L. Sterrett

The largest producers of greenhouse gases must bear responsibility for the damage being caused ... in particular to the vulnerable countries whose sustainability and very existence are increasingly threatened by their actions.

Prime Minister Stephenson King of Saint Lucia1

There is deep injustice in the impacts of climate change. The rich countries that are largely responsible for causing the problem through many decades of unabated greenhouse gas emissions disproportionately reap the economic benefits of fossil-fuel-dependent growth.2 Yet poor countries are being worst affected, facing more severe droughts, floods, hunger, and disease, and with less capacity to adapt.3 Within international climate change policy this injustice is entrenched by inequities in power relations in international negotiations, an ongoing lack of consideration for affected communities by rich developed nations, and a disregard for equity and justice.

Given the current lack of effective international climate change policy, the rights of world's most vulnerable people are at risk. This chapter argues that the international community, in particular those with the responsibility and capacity to act, must bolster those rights in its response to climate change.

This chapter begins by demonstrating how poor, developing communities are suffering the physical effects of climate change first and worst. It then sets out principles for adaptation policy that are sustainable and equitable for the world's poor before examining international climate change adaptation policy. With particular reference to the World Bank's Climate Investment Funds, this chapter demonstrates how this type of funding is unable to protect those who are set to suffer the most—the world's poor. Finally, this chapter offers possible solutions and ways forward for international climate adaptation policy that are sustainable, equitable, and reach those that need it most.

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