While climate-induced storms, floods, heat waves and droughts have become more extreme, the world is doing too little to prepare for the effects of a warming planet.
That’s the conclusion of a new UNEP report, which found that efforts to build resilience to the impacts of climate change, known as adaptation, have not kept pace with the growing risks they pose to humans.
“The world must urgently reduce greenhouse gas emissions to limit the effects of climate change. But we must also urgently scale up our efforts to adapt to the impacts that have already occurred and are about to happen,” UNEP Executive Director Inge Anderson said in a statement said in.
Adaptation — and the funding to support it — will be the main focus of international climate talks scheduled to begin Sunday in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. At last year’s summit, developed countries agreed to double their pledges to help countries invest in things like drought-tolerant crops, coastal defenses and other disaster-resistant infrastructure.
This will increase funding from $20 billion in 2019 to $40 billion in 2025. But the UN report found that between $160 billion and $340 billion will be needed by 2030 to meet the growing need for adaptation. Without more support, the report notes, climate risks could outweigh countries’ response efforts — leaving them further treated.
A series of catastrophic climate events this year, combined with historic floods in Pakistan that killed some 1,700 people and caused up to $40 billion in damage, have drawn attention to the need to fortify national resources and find ways to respond before disaster strikes. Take damage and become whole again.
If the world continues on its current trajectory, the climate impact will only get worse. A sister report released last week by the United Nations Environment Programme showed that under current national policies, temperatures will rise by 2.8C by the end of the century, well above the 1.5C target set in the Paris Agreement.
The lack of action draws attention to the need for adaptation. It also highlights a new and rising threat: loss and damage that occurs when climate impacts cannot adapt.
And those countries that do the least to cause problems—and have fewer resources to deal with them—are forced to suffer the consequences.
“Those on the front lines of the climate crisis are seeking support from the back,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said at the launch of the UN Environment report. “This is unacceptable.”
He is promoting an initiative to speed up financing for adaptation projects to be launched in Egypt. It will depend on helping countries turn their adaptation needs into bankable projects, and then matching them with lenders who can collaborate to deliver large-scale investments rather than scattered small-scale investments.
“Frankly, this is one of the challenges we have faced in adaptation over the past 30 years, yes, translating what we know and what we think countries’ priorities are into something tangible that can be invested in to help a country strengthen its response to the climate crisis resilience,” a senior UN official said when briefing reporters on the background of the UN-led initiative.
Most countries have adaptation plans or strategies, but many lack details or timelines and struggle to attract investment. Although funding for adaptation has grown slightly in recent years, it still accounts for only about a third of total climate funding, with the bulk of it going to clean energy deployment and other mitigation efforts to provide a clearer return on investment.
At a time when the world faces major global challenges, the report calls for “unprecedented political will” and a sharp increase in investment in adaptation to prevent the gap from widening.
Guterres and many other leaders have also called for major reforms in the way development banks—especially the World Bank—finance to help developing countries tackle climate change.climate line7 October).
“Investment channels are blocked; we have to lift the blockade now,” Guterres said.
He also called on rich countries that have failed to deliver on their pledges to provide much-needed climate finance to poorer countries to come up with a plan with a clear timetable for how they will deliver on their pledges.
“We need to be one step ahead if we don’t want to deal with disasters in contingency mode, disaster after disaster, for decades to come,” Anderson wrote in the report’s foreword.
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