Why invest in climate change adaptation?
Many of us are having to change our ways of life as a result of climate change. The climate crisis means weather patterns are changing, floods and other weather related hazards are becoming more frequent, extreme, and less predictable. We need to find ways of adapting to this new reality.
However, the countries, communities, and individuals worst affected by climate change are often those with the least resources to invest in adaptation.
That’s why in 2009 wealthy countries committed to mobilise $100 bn in annual climate finance to assist low-income countries to address climate change by 2020. At least half of this should be financing climate change adaptation.
The Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance’s report At what cost: How chronic gaps in adaptation finance expose the world’s poorest people to climate chaos looked at the extent to which this funding target has been met. We found that countries have fallen short of the target, and that the finance distributed is not reaching those countries most in need of support.
The global community must dramatically increase adaptation funding for vulnerable countries impacted by the climate emergency.
Others have done similar research, also finding that investments in climate change adaptation is insufficient to meet ambitions set by wealthy countries, or the needs of those hardest hit by climate change. You can for example read UNEP’s Adaptation Gap, Oxfam’s Climate Finance Shadow Report 2020, and CARE International’s Climate Adaptation Finance – Fact or Fiction?.
If we don’t invest today we’ll have to pay later
The longer adaptation efforts are put off, the more difficult and expensive it will be to manage increasing needs and the harder it will be to save lives and mitigate suffering.
According to UNEP, if global warming stays below 2°C, adaptation costs are expected to range between $140 bn and $300 bn per year by 2030, and rise to between $280 bn and $500 bn per year by 2050. For more severe scenarios of global warming these figures are expected to be much greater.
The International Federation of Red Cross Red Crescent Societies’ report The cost of doing nothing claims that an additional 50 million people per year will be in need of humanitarian aid by 2030. By 2030, the cost of humanitarian aid (excluding conflict) is expected to increase to $20 bn per year, increasing present humanitarian needs by 35 per cent; and by 2050 would be 50 per cent higher than present.
In 2009, wealthy countries committed to mobilize $100 bn in annual climate finance to assist low-income countries to address climate change by 2020.