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The evidence on climate change is clear, and so are the solutions

December 20, 2018

Dominique Charron

Vice-President, Programs and Partnerships, IDRC

The 24th “Conference of the Parties” (COP24) that just ended offered the opportunity to demonstrate and test the global commitment to take meaningful and decisive action to address climate change. Thousands of people gathered in Poland to negotiate how the global community will meet the Paris Agreement commitments.

While COP24 was taking place in Poland, the world continued to witness protests and policy disagreements that remind us that much energy is still spent not on how to fight or adapt to climate change, but whether to try at all. This, despite unequivocal evidence that many parts of the world will face significant impacts by 2030 if we do not immediately accelerate and scale-up climate change solutions.

The research and policy communities have a responsibility to build a bridge between evidence of the effects of climate change and the average driver who is worried about rising fuel costs or the worker who fears for their job. We need to build an even bigger bridge to those who live in communities in the Global South, who are so often excluded from global dialogues, yet are most vulnerable to their effects.

We need to build these bridges in part because with evidence comes solutions — solutions that not only help us reverse and adapt to the effects of climate change, but solutions that also open new doors of opportunity to people all over the world.

The solutions exist. We at IDRC see this first-hand. For instance, when we started cataloguing practical climate change adaptation solutions funded by IDRC in developing countries, we soon had a list of nearly 300 solutions from all over the world. These solutions were each developed within a local context, but are adaptable to other settings. They include helping fish farmers adapt to increasingly unpredictable water levels, using microloans to assist homeowners in vulnerable areas to weatherproof their homes against increased rainfall and flooding, while helping households in other areas cope with droughts.

These solutions are a drop in the bucket, but they demonstrate the power of practical, evidence-based solutions that can change lives for the better.

Solutions based on evidence are what will help us reverse, slow down, and adapt to the effects of climate change. These solutions can also speak to the worries of people who fear for their lives and livelihoods.

The Paris Agreement calls for global action to limit global temperature increases to 2 degrees Celsius, with an aspiration to keep this limit to 1.5 degrees. We know that in some regions, the 1.5 degree limit will be reached in less than a decade.

We need to take action. The evidence exists. So too do the solutions. We must find a way for the global community to coalesce around these solutions. Not just at gatherings like COP24, but in every village, town, and city around the world.

The original French version of this article was published in La Presse.

Dominique Charron is vice-president, programs and partnerships at IDRC.