• Climate change impacts can foil the attainment of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially for the poorest and most vulnerable countries.
  • Adaptation focuses on creating resilience to anticipated disasters. The goal of adaptation is to reduce our vulnerability to the harmful effects of climate change. Adaptation plays a key role in helping countries to attain their SDGs.
  • The Adaptation Fund (AF) of the Paris Agreement provides grant funding for concrete, localized projects and programs that help the most vulnerable communities in developing countries adapt and build resilience to climate change, thus helping them in achieving their SDGs. It supports those that are often the most at risk, but least capable to deal with climate change.
  • The Corporate Air Passenger Solidarity (CAPS) programme provides a tool that allows private sector companies to align their air travel with SDGs through the Adaptation Fund.

Adaptation: Building resilience to ongoing climate change

  • There is no doubt that rapid and radical decarbonisation is essential to reduce the adverse impacts of climate change, not least on poor and vulnerable countries and communities, and their efforts to achieve the SDGs. Adaptation and mitigation both reduce adverse climate change impacts — mitigation reduces the cause of climate change; adaptation increases the resilience to by now inevitable impacts.
  • However, we have passed the point where we can rely only on mitigation to reduce these impacts adequately. Adaptation measures are now as essential, particularly to help the poorest and most vulnerable countries and communities across the globe in their efforts to deal with climate change.
  • Private sector corporations, in particular the corporate members of the Global Compact, have taken great strides in decarbonising their activities through mitigation efforts. However, efforts to support adaptation are still largely missing, to the particular detriment of the poorest and most vulnerable.

CAPS: What is it and why do we need it now?

  • The current pandemic has highlighted that meeting face-to-face is essential, in particular to conduct business. There is little doubt that flight activities will return to ‘normal’ levels once the pandemic is over. For a more sustainable ‘new normal’, CAPS will help companies align unavoidable air travel with the SDGs. To ensure this to happen, CAPS needs to be operationalised as soon as possible.
  • CAPS provides a simple tool to address the residual negative impacts of flying.
  • Participants can make (annual) contributions proportional to a small (1%) share of their air travel expenditures to the AF via its website.

Why should business be concerned?

  • Efforts to decarbonize the air transport sector have largely been through carbon offsets. Carbon offsetting, however, is controversial and has given rise to a growing ‘flight shaming’ movement.
  • This poses a reputational risk to businesses, in particular those that have signed up to aligning their activities with the SDGs.
  • CAPS can mitigate this risk and at the same time allows corporates to align their unavoidable flights with the SDGs.

The Global Compact: Why and what for?

  • The Global Compact is ideally placed to promote the CAPS idea among corporations that have already committed to aligning their activities with the SDGs.
  • CAPS will help the Global Compact enhance its current adaptation portfolio in a very practical manner, by providing its corporate members with a concrete tool to “commit to responsible climate adaptation” and to do more by “acting now to respond to immediate climate impacts and to support the most vulnerable members of society, urgently increasing the availability of adaptation and resilience finance”.
  • It will also allow the Global Compact and the Adaptation Fund to demonstrate the power of synergetic collaboration between UN organisations, not least as a way to participate in the UNFCCC Race to Resilience launched by the high-level Climate champions during the 2020 Climate Ambition Summit.