Limits to adaptation

Will we be able to limit the increase in global temperature to 3ºC, or will it rise a further 8ºC or more?

This is the first of ten questions for the coming century posed by the venerable Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the Washington think tank celebrating its own centenary. I’m afraid that it reflects the type of backsliding ambition that makes me thankful for the UNFCCC process for international climate negotiations, for all its considerable failings. Without it, we would see the richer countries tolerating an intolerable degree of global warming, throwing money at domestic adaptation, as indeed is already happening.

The snag is that the limits to adaptation will be breached in many poorer countries long before we reach 3ºC. Take last month’s report from the International Center for Tropical Agriculture warning that coffee growing in Ghana will be in serious trouble by 2050. In discussing the obvious adaptation strategy to plant trees at higher altitudes, the CIAT pointed out:

The problem is that much of West Africa is relatively flat and there is no ‘uphill’

To finish the week on a more positive note, here’s a coffee adaptation story from Uganda, where hills and mountains can ease the temperature pain. The programme is promoted by the Welsh Assembly in the UK.


this post was first published by OneWorld UK