The World Isn’t Adapting to Climate Change Quickly Enough, U.N. Says

The World Isn’t Adapting to Climate Change Quickly Enough, U.N. Says

The world is not doing enough to prepare for the effects of a warming planet. Even as extreme climate-fueled storms and floods, heat waves, drought, and flooding become more frequent.

This is the conclusion of the U.N.’s latest report. The U.N. Environment Programme has concluded that efforts to adapt to climate change impacts, also known as adaptation, are not meeting the increasing risks to humanity.

” The world must reduce greenhouse gas emissions urgently to limit the effects of climate change. However, we must also increase our efforts to adapt to the effects that are already here and to come,” Inger Anderson, executive director of U.N. In a statement, the Environment Programme stated.

Adaptation–and the funding to support it–will be a key focus of international climate negotiations that will begin Sunday in Sharm el-Sheikh (Egypt). Last year, developed countries agreed that they would double the amount of money that they commit to helping countries invest in drought-tolerant crops, coastal defenses, and other disaster-resilient infrastructure.

That would boost finance from $20 billion in 2019 to $40 billion by 2025. But the U.N. report finds that between $160 billion and $340 billion will be needed by 2030 to respond to growing adaptation needs. The report states that climate risks could overwhelm countries’ efforts to adapt, and put them further under treat.

A series of catastrophic climate events this year, punctuated by historic flooding in Pakistan that killed around 1,700 people and left up to $40 billion in damage, has cast a spotlight on the need to harden countries’ resources before disasters occur and find ways to make them whole again once harms have been inflicted.

Climate effects will only get worse if the world keeps moving in the same direction. The U.N. has released a sister report. The Environment Programme, which was released last week, showed that temperatures are expected to rise by 2.8 degrees Celsius under current policies in countries, well above the 1.5C goal set out in the Paris Agreement.

The lack of action has brought attention to the need for adaptation. It has also highlighted a new threat: the potential loss and damage that can occur when climate impacts are not managed.

And the countries that did the least to create the problem and have less resources to address it are forced to pay the consequences.

” Those at the frontlines of the climate crisis are at back of support line,” U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres stated at the UNEP report’s launch. This is unacceptable

He is pushing an initiative to accelerate financing for adaptation projects. It will be launched in Egypt. It will help countries turn their adaptation needs into bankable project and match them with lenders who are able to work together to deliver large-scale, coordinated investments.

“Quite frankly, that is one of the challenges that we’ve had over the course of the last 30 years on the adaptation front, right, translating what we know and what we see as priorities in countries into something tangible that can be invested in to help a country to boost its resilience to the climate crisis,” said a senior U.N. official speaking to reporters on background about the U.N.-led initiative.

While a large number of countries have plans or strategies for adaptation, many lack details and timelines that will attract investment. Although money for adaptation has seen a slight increase in recent years, it still accounts for only a third of global climate finance. The bulk of the funds go toward clean energy deployment, which provides a better return on investment.

At an era when the world faces major global challenges, this report calls for “unprecedented” political will and large-scaled investments in adaptation to stop the gap from widening.

Guterres and a host of other leaders also have called for a major overhaul to the way that development banks–the World Bank in particular–extend finance to help developing countries tackle climate change (Climatewire, Oct. 7).

” The investment pipeline is blocked. We must unblock it immediately,” Guterres stated.

He also asked rich countries that have failed to fulfill a pledge to provide climate finance to the poorer nations to present a plan and clear timelines to show how they will meet their commitments.

” “If we don’t want the next decades to be spent in emergency response mode, dealing after disaster, then we need to get ahead,” Andersen, UNEP head, wrote in an forward to the report.

Reprinted from E&E News with permission from

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