Giving Compass' Take:
- Sigal Samuel discusses the importance of giving money to those who will be impacted by disasters before the disasters happen.
- What are the root causes of poor people being most harmed by climate disasters? What are the benefits of anticipatory cash transfers?
- Learn about natural disaster resiliency.
What is Giving Compass?
We connect donors to learning resources and ways to support community-led solutions. Learn more about us.
If you’re reading this, you probably care about fighting climate change. But what does that actually mean to you?
Chances are, you take it to mean supporting climate change mitigation: reducing the flow of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere by replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy.
But there’s another aspect to the fight against climate change: adaptation. Adapting to life in a more dangerous climate involves building resilience to weather shocks — for example, by constructing a seawall or planting crops that can withstand droughts and floods.
Mitigation is vastly more popular than adaptation. Of all the funding directed toward fighting climate change globally, over 90 percent goes into the mitigation bucket. And I can’t claim to be surprised: For years, I’ve mostly focused on that bucket, too. I saw mitigation as the way to solve climate change, while adaptation seemed like putting a Band-Aid on one of the world’s biggest problems.
And yet, who determines the time scale of our response to that problem?
For many people — especially poorer people in poorer countries — the problem is now. Climate change is already flooding their homes and causing them heatstroke. It would be unjust for richer countries that disproportionately created the problem to say “we get to determine the time scale of the problem, not you, and we’re deciding to frame the problem as a future event to be mitigated.” Climate change is also a present event, so solving it also means addressing the problem as it exists today.
“If you look at some river that’s started flooding now, no matter what we do in even the next 100 years, these rivers are going to continue flooding,” said Miriam Laker-Oketta, a Uganda-based research director at GiveDirectly, a nonprofit helping the world’s poorest.
She was referring to the fact that it will take decades to decarbonize the world’s energy supply, and meanwhile all the carbon we’ve emitted and keep emitting will continue to warm the atmosphere for hundreds of years. Money spent to mitigate emissions will pay off over the long term but do little to protect a country from climate change right now.
Read the full article about anticipatory cash transfers by Sigal Samuel at Vox.