The UN has issued a warning that the steps being taken to protect against the climate crisis are insufficient.
The UN report has issued a stark warning that the world is not adequately prepared for the increasing effects of the climate crisis, which is already affecting billions of individuals worldwide.
The current level of international funding for protecting communities from heatwaves, floods, and droughts is only 5-10% of the required amount. This funding has also decreased in recent years, despite the increasing severity of extreme weather events.
According to a report from the UN Environment Programme (Unep), the cost of climate adaptation in disadvantaged countries during this decade is estimated to be between $215 billion and $387 billion annually. However, the report noted that funding has decreased by 15% in 2021, reaching only $21 billion.
At the 2021 UN climate conference in Glasgow, affluent countries vowed to contribute $40 billion by 2025. The main focus of the Cop28 summit, starting on November 30th in the United Arab Emirates, is to provide necessary adaptation measures to protect individuals from the impacts of climate change, in addition to reducing carbon emissions.
The report stated that adaptation is a highly cost-effective solution. For instance, every $1 billion invested in protecting against coastal flooding would result in a $14 billion decrease in economic damages. Additionally, implementing protective measures would reduce the amount of future compensation that developing countries are requesting to be made available at Cop28 through a new loss and damage fund.
According to experts, all countries are ill-equipped to handle the effects of climate change, making adaptation crucial for survival. In the UK, a recent adaptation strategy was deemed inadequate in safeguarding people’s well-being and is currently facing legal opposition.
“Inger Andersen, the executive director of Unep, stated that our civilization is ill-equipped and lacks proper preparation and investment, leaving us all vulnerable. In 2023, we witnessed once again the destructive and fatal impact of climate change. This evidence has been repeatedly seen with our own eyes and on our television screens.” Andersen drew attention to the floods in Europe and China, extreme heat and wildfires in the US and Canada, and drought in east Africa.
Andersen expressed concern about the decrease in funding for adaptation, stating that it will have a significant impact on those who are forced to deal with the consequences of climate change without proper support. She also warned that postponing adaptation efforts will only result in greater suffering in the future.
She said the pre-eminent adaptation scientist was Prof Saleemul Huq, who died last week, and said the global situation was summed up in his quote from June: “We are now in the era of losses and damages from climate change. Every day, week, month, and year from now on, things are going to get worse everywhere. Every country will be hit, and every country is unprepared to some extent.”
The United Nations Secretary General, António Guterres, stated that lives and livelihoods are being lost and destroyed, with the most vulnerable being the hardest hit. However, despite the increasing needs, progress towards addressing the issue is slowing down. It is imperative for the world to take action in order to bridge the gap of adaptation and ensure climate justice.
The speaker emphasized that the individuals and groups responsible for the current situation are the ones who need to assist those affected. They urged governments to impose taxes on the excessive profits made by the fossil fuel industry.
Tom Evans, a member of the thinktank E3G, stated that adapting to climate impacts is crucial for survival as they become more severe and frequent. He expressed that these challenging tasks have been neglected for too long.
He stated, “However, given that climate disasters are occurring at a quicker and more intense pace than expected, we must put an end to short-term thinking. The ability of billions of individuals to manage climate crisis depends on political leaders giving this issue greater attention.”
The recent report from Unep stated that the current efforts to address climate change are insufficient to reach the temperature and adaptation targets set by the Paris agreement. The report also highlighted that in the past twenty years, the 55 countries most affected by climate change have experienced over $500 billion in damages. If strong actions to reduce emissions are not taken, these costs will continue to increase significantly in the future.
Protection measures needed included coastal defences, with rising seas threatening millions, and urban flood prevention, with storm downpours becoming more intense. Cities needed to become better adapted to heatwaves, Andersen said, and farming also needed to adapt to more droughts.
She emphasized the significance of expanding and revitalizing green spaces, such as implementing green corridors in Medellín, Colombia, which can decrease temperatures by 2C. Additionally, mangroves have proven to be effective in protecting coastlines from storm damage. The implementation of early warning systems to notify individuals of severe weather conditions is crucial, and the UN has set a goal to reach every person on the planet by 2028.
The study discovered that over 80% of nations have implemented a national adaptation plan. However, Anderson emphasized the importance of securing funding to support these plans. The report suggested that reforms at institutions like the World Bank, along with increased investments from governments and businesses, were crucial in providing more resources for addressing climate change.
According to the report, the expense of loss and damage is expected to increase substantially. This necessitates exploring alternative forms of funding, such as taxes on air and sea travel and debt relief. While some of these solutions may be contentious, it is crucial to consider all possibilities as the cost continues to rise. Andersen stated, “We must acknowledge the rising cost and be open to exploring all avenues.”
The combustion of non-renewable resources is the main reason for the current state of the environment. Gordon Brown, a former prime minister of the United Kingdom, has proposed a global windfall tax of $25 billion per year on the increasing profits of oil and gas companies. This tax would be paid by wealthy petrostates like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Norway. Brown argues that these countries have more than enough resources to cover this tax, and their failure to redistribute a portion of their profits to underdeveloped nations is a major issue that needs to be addressed.