Half of the world’s climate change financing should go to helping poorer nations adapt to the effects of global warming, such as droughts, rising seas and floods, the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP) said on Thursday.
Extreme weather last year such as torrential rains in Africa, record heat waves and warmer temperatures on tropical oceans is consistent with climate change, scientists say.
Last year was one of the warmest on record and as impacts intensify, governments around the world must adapt better or face serious costs, damages and losses, the UNEP Adaptation Gap Report 2020 said.
The 2015 Paris Agreement aims to curb warming to below 2 degrees Celsius, preferably 1.5C, this century.
Under the pact, governments also agreed to implement adaptation measures such as flood defences, greener homes and drought-resilient crops, with financial aid for poorer nations.
“As the U.N. Secretary-General has said, we need a global commitment to put half of all global climate finance towards adaptation in the next year,” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP.
“This will allow a huge step up in adaptation – in everything from early warning systems to resilient water resources to nature-based solutions.”
The UNEP annual report on progress towards adaptation revealed that 72% of countries have adopted at least one national-level adaptation planning instrument.
However, huge financing gaps remain to help developing countries adapt to the worst effects.
More progress is also needed bringing adaptation projects to the stage where they bring real protection.
International finance for adaptation is slowly rising from $30 billion, or 5% of tracked climate funds, annually.
But adaptation costs in developing countries are estimated at $70 billion per year, the report said. This is expected to reach $140-300 billion in 2030 and $280-500 billion in 2050.
According to the report, cutting greenhouse gas emissions will reduce the impacts and costs of climate change. Achieving the 2C target could limit losses in annual growth to up to 1.6%, compared to 2.2% for a 3C trajectory.
The Global Commission on Adaptation, launched in 2018 by the United Nations, in 2019 estimated that a $1.8 trillion investment in adaptation measures from 2020 to 2030 would bring a return of $7.1 trillion in cost-saving and other benefits by 2030.