In a vulnerable world, we cannot afford to lose the race to adapt

Photo by Rohan Reddy / Unsplash / 14 Jan 2021

2020 was, in addition to COVID-19, the year of intensifying climate impacts. Floods, droughts and storms affected over 50 million people, while wildfires devastated forests and communities. These impacts will only worsen. As UNEP’s Emissions Gap Report illustrated in 2020, we are not doing enough to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Based on Paris Agreement commitments, the world is heading for at least a 3°C temperature rise this century.

Even if we limit global warming to well below 2°C, or even 1.5°C, developing countries will suffer, it is the poorest and most vulnerable on whom these impacts will be the most pronounced. The only way to minimize costs, losses and damages is to race to adapt.

The fifth edition of the UNEP Adaptation Gap Report finds that while we may be gathering pace, we are still losing this vital race. Almost three-quarters of countries have adopted at least one national-level adaptation planning instrument. Since 2006, multilateral climate funds have initiated around 400 adaptation projects in developing countries. However, adaptation financing is around 5 per cent of total climate finance, or USD 30 billion per year, far short of where it needs to be. Meanwhile, an analysis of adaptation actions showed that only 3 per cent reported evidence of real reductions in climate risks. Read more…

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