A dramatic increase in funding for climate adaptation is needed to save millions of lives from “climate carnage”, UN Secretary-General António Guterres has said.
Climate adaptation includes preparing defenses against rising floods, protection against intensified cyclones, and contingency plans to protect people during worsening heat waves and droughts. Guterres said only a tiny fraction of the required funding was given by wealthy nations to protect vulnerable people.
A report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) said the worsening effects of the climate crisis would outstrip the ability to provide protection without much more funding for adaptation, leading to “knockout blows” for future generations.
The report found that 80% of countries had started adaptation plans, but only a third had quantified targets with deadlines.
Climate action has three key forms: reducing emissions to limit impacts, adapting to avoidable impacts, and financing reconstruction in communities affected by impacts that cannot be adapted to.
A series of reports last week found that measures to reduce global carbon emissions were so far “woefully inadequate”, while Guterres said on Thursday that rebuilding funds – known as “loss and damage” in UN talks – would be a critical issue at the Cop27 climate summit starting next week.
Rich countries provided $29 billion in funding in 2020, the latest available data, just 4% higher than in 2019. Developed countries pledged at Cop26 last year to increase it to $40 billion by 2025.
The growing impact of the climate crisis has been evident in 2022, including catastrophic flooding in Pakistan and scorching heat waves from the U.S. to China. The impact of global warming on the overcharging of many extreme weather events is now strong, even with only a temperature increase of 1.1 C so far, and some major effects would not have occurred without humanity’s involvement in the climate.
Other global crises, such as Russia’s war in Ukraine, cannot be used as excuses for inaction.
In addition to more funding, countries need much better data on climate risks and extreme weather early warning systems need to be in place anywhere in the world within five years. The world must take the plunge and protect people and communities from the immediate and ever-growing risks of the climate emergency.
The design of adaptation measures must involve indigenous peoples and local communities. Only then will it be possible to be efficient, sustainable and fair. It is these communities that have the specialist knowledge in place about their needs and who can best develop transformative solutions, which also address the underlying drivers of poverty, inequality, climate change and the deterioration of nature.