UN urges nations to step up adaptation to climate change to avoid major economic losses

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Residents of the boats inspect the flood waters flowing from the Tittabawassee River in the lower downtown area May 20, 2020 in Midland, Michigan.

Gregory Shamus | Getty Images

Governments around the world must dramatically step up climate change adaptation measures to avoid major economic damage from global warming, according to the fifth edition of the United Nations Environment Program’s Adaptation Gap report.

Nations must spend half of all global climate finance on adaptation next year to avoid the worst impact of climate change, according to the report released Thursday. In 2020, the hottest year on record, tied with 2016, the world has seen record hurricanes and wildfires that continue to escalate as temperatures rise.

Such a commitment would include investing in nature-based solutions to mitigate climate change, such as practices such as replanting trees on degraded land, sequestering more carbon in the soil through agricultural practices and protecting forests by changing logging practices.

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Almost 75% of countries have adopted some form of climate adaptation. But major gaps remain in funding for developing countries, which are most vulnerable to rising temperatures, as well as projects that have significantly reduced climate risk, according to the report.

The UN has estimated that the annual costs of climate adaptation could reach between $ 140 billion and $ 300 billion by the end of the decade and between $ 280 and $ 500 billion by 2050, and concluded that the global action is far behind.

And while climate adaptation projects are on the increase, the continued surge in global carbon emissions is putting these projects at risk.

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Under the Paris Climate Agreement, the global pact concluded five years ago between nearly 200 countries, governments are trying to keep global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit , compared to pre-industrial levels.

The world is still on track for temperatures to rise more than 3 degrees Celsius, or 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit, this century.

The report says that meeting the 2 degree Celsius target could limit the economic loss of annual growth by up to 1.6%, compared to 2.2% for a warming of 3 degrees Celsius and urged countries to upgrade. update their targets under the Paris Agreement to include a new net zero. carbon targets.

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“The hard truth is that climate change is upon us,” Inger Andersen, executive director of UNEP, said in a statement. “Its impacts will intensify and hit vulnerable countries and communities hardest – even if we meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.”

The report also called on governments to prioritize climate change in their Covid-19 economic stimulus plans, including moving away from fossil fuels to invest in green technologies and ecosystem restoration.

The world’s largest economies have committed more than $ 12 trillion to recovering economies, according to the International Monetary Fund.

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