The world is falling short at providing money to assist struggling nations adapt to the increasingly dangerous impacts of climate change, according to a new UN report.
As the climate crisis intensifies, adapting to its fallout is key, the United Nations Environment Programme said in a report published on Thursday titled Too Little, Too Slow: Climate Adaptation Failure Puts the World at Risk.
The global community’s adaptation planning, financing and implementation are not currently keeping pace with the growing risks, it warned.
The past year saw catastrophic floods in Pakistan, severe summer heat in the Northern Hemisphere and a multiyear drought in the Horn of Africa, all of which occurred at a temperature rise of only 1.1C (1.9F) above pre-industrial levels.
If countries deliver on their pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions made in the Paris Agreement, global warming of 2.4C to 2.6C (4.3F to 4.7F) is projected by the end of the century. Current policies point to a 2.8C (5F) temperature rise.
Climate change is “landing blow after blow upon humanity” and the international community must reduce greenhouse gas emissions to avoid worsening impacts, the UN agency said.
As well as finding the money and political will to slash emissions and contain global warming, hundreds of billions of dollars are needed to protect countries from changes that have happened much faster than scientists had anticipated.
“International adaptation finance flows to developing countries are 5-10 times below estimated needs and the gap continues to widen,” the report said.
Combined adaptation and mitigation financing in 2020 fell at least $17bn short of the $100bn pledged to developing countries.
More needs to be done if a doubling of the 2019 financing flows is to be met by 2025. That goal was set out in the Glasgow Climate Pact, adopted at global climate talks in 2021.
Annual adaptation needs are estimated at $160bn to $340bn by 2030 and $315bn to $565bn by 2050, according to the UN.
“It’s time for a global climate adaptation overhaul,” said United Nations secretary-general Antonio Guterres in a media statement, noting he had asked green climate funds to work with public and private financiers to pilot a new accelerator for adaptation investment.
The accelerator will help financiers work with developing countries to invest in their adaptation priorities and specific projects.
Adaptation funds are often put into programmes like improving food security by planting crops that are resilient to heat and drought, or in infrastructure, such as sea walls to help keep rising waters at bay.
At COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, beginning on November 6, countries “must present a credible roadmap with clear milestones on how this will be delivered – preferably as grants, not loans,” said Guterres.