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Nations must step up action to adapt to new climate reality: UNEP report

WMO Secretary-General Prof. Petter Taalas joined a high-level panel on 14 January to release the report, which finds that the pace of adaptation financing is indeed rising, but is outpaced by rapidly increasing adaptation costs.

WMO | Updated: 14-01-2021 22:36 IST | Created: 14-01-2021 22:36 IST
Nations must step up action to adapt to new climate reality: UNEP report
“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. Image Credit: Pixabay

As temperatures rise and climate change impacts intensify, nations must urgently step up action to adapt to the new climate reality or face serious costs, damages and losses, a new UN Environment Programme (UNEP) report finds.

WMO Secretary-General Prof. Petter Taalas joined a high-level panel on 14 January to release the report, which finds that the pace of adaptation financing is indeed rising, but is outpaced by rapidly increasing adaptation costs. Annual adaptation costs in developing countries are estimated at USD 70 billion. This figure is expected to reach USD 140-300 billion in 2030 and USD 280-500 billion in 2050.

"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."

Almost three-quarters of nations have some adaptation plans in place, but financing and implementation fall far short of what is needed

Annual adaptation costs in developing countries are estimated at USD 70 billion. This figure is expected to reach USD 140-300 billion in 2030 and USD 280-500 billion in 2050.

Nature-based solutions, critical for adaptation, need to receive more attention, according to the Adaptation Gap report.

Prof. Taalas said that, given the long lifetime of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the negative impacts of climate change will continue for decades. WMO will thus continue efforts to support climate adaptation and increase resilience to extreme weather, he said.

"It is very important to pay attention to multi-hazard early warning systems," he said. "These are a powerful tool for climate adaptation."

Climate Risk and Early Warning Systems

A Climate Adaptation Summit on 25 January, organized by the Global Center on Adaptation, will seek to rally more international support for adaptation – reducing countries' and communities' vulnerability to climate change by increasing their ability to absorb impacts.

WMO is an implementing partner of the Climate Risk and Early Warning Systems (CREWS) initiative, which works to save lives, assets and livelihoods through increased access to early weather warnings and risk information for people in the least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) – the world's most vulnerable countries.

CREWS is hosting an Anchoring Event at the Adaptation summit: Getting ahead of the climate curve: Investing in early warning and early action. Ministers, executive heads, and speakers form countries at the front line of climate change impacts will address the urgent need for increased attention and investment into people-centred early warning and early action.

One in three people is still not adequately covered by early warning systems, according to the 2020 State of Climate Services report, spearheaded by WMO. It urged countries and communities to move from early warnings to early action.

Only one-fifth of overall climate financing only goes to LDCs and 3% to SIDS, specific gaps addressed by WMO through CREWS.

Adaptation is a key pillar of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. The agreement requires its signatories to implement adaptation measures through national plans, climate information systems, early warning, protective measures and investments in a green future.

The UNEP Adaptation Gap Report 2020 finds that while nations have advanced in planning, huge gaps remain in finance for developing countries and bringing adaptation projects to the stage where they bring real protection against climate impacts such as droughts, floods and sea-level rise.

Public and private finance for adaptation must be stepped up urgently, along with faster implementation. Nature-based solutions – locally appropriate actions that address societal challenges, such as climate change, and provide human well-being and biodiversity benefits by protecting, sustainably managing and restoring natural or modified ecosystems – must also become a priority.


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