The world went through difficult times in 2020 with Covid 19 pandemic affecting all spheres of life. Apart from this, the globe also witnessed an increase in temperature, droughts, floods, wildfires, locust attacks and storms. With the world witnessing an intensified climate change, the United Nations called for urgent action to adapt to the changing climate reality or to face serious consequences.
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Adaptation Gap Report, published the other day, stressed the need for strong action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for meeting the Paris Agreement goals.
The fifth edition of the Adaptation Gap Report enlists an update on the current actions and emerging results of global adaptation planning, finance and implementation. It said that these three elements are critical towards the global goal on adaptation. The report also focussed nature-based solutions as key instruments for adaptation to the impacts of climate hazards.
One of the warmest years, 2020 saw 50 million people directly affected by floods, storms and drought. United States, Brazil and Australia saw an intensity of wildfire.
The report notes that several countries have advanced in planning. However, it points out to several gaps in finance for developing countries and bringing adaptation projects to a level where real protection is ensured.
The UNEP said that the countries should step up public and private finance for Adaptation, along with faster implementation. It also called for giving priority to nature-based solutions – locally appropriate actions that address societal challenges like climate change. Apart from this, the UNEP wants to protect, sustainably manage and restore natural ecosystems to provide human well-being and biodiversity benefits.
Stressing that the ‘hard truth is that climate change is upon us,’ UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen said its impacts would intensify and hit vulnerable countries and communities the hardest.
Adaptation planning growing, but funding/ follow-up lagging
The UNEP Adaptation Gap report said that 72 per cent of the countries have adopted at least one adaptation planning instrument, which was most encouraging. It noted that most of the developing countries are preparing National Adaptation Plans. However, the finance/funding needed to implement these plans was not growing fast enough, it said.
Though there is an increase for adaptation financing, it continues to be outpaced by increasing adaptation costs. It said that the adaptation costs in developing countries is estimated at 70 billion dollars annually.
The UNEP in its report mentioned that the Green Climate Fund (GCF) allocated 40 per cent of its total portfolio to adaptation and is increasingly crowding in private sector investment. There was also a momentum to ensure a sustainable financial system, the report pointed out. Despite all this, the Adaptation Gap report wants an increased public and private adaptation finance.
Noting that implementation of adaptation actions was growing, the report said that about 400 adaptation projects have taken place in developing countries since 2006.
The UNEP in its report gives emphasis on nature-based solutions as low-cost options to reduce climate risks. It points out that four major climate and development funds – the Green Climate Fund, the Global Environment Facility, the International Climate Initiative and the Adaptation Fund – with some element of nature-based solutions has risen over the last two decades.
Stepping up action
The report notes that cutting greenhouse gas emissions would reduce impacts and costs related to climate change. The UNEP maintains that once the 2°C target of Paris Agreement was reached, it could limit losses in annual growth to up to 1.6 per cent, compared to 2.2 per cent for the 3°C trajectory.