Adaptation costs in developing countries due to damages caused by climate change are up to 10 times greater than what these countries receive for the same, warns the Executive Director of United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Inger Andersen. And this adaptation finance gap could be worsened by the rising cost of servicing debt among developing countries since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Speaking at the launch of the 2021 Adaptation Gap Report on Thursday at the climate talks in Glasgow, Ms Andersen said there is a critical need to find new ways to finance countries that are no longer eligible to borrow at concessional levels since the Covid-19 recession.
The UNEP director put the costs of adaptation for developing countries at between $140 billion to $300 billion per year, expected to rise to $280 billion to $500 billion per year by 2050.
Climate finance flows for both adaptation and mitigation reached just under $80 billion in 2019 — about $20 billion short of the $100 billion pledge to developing countries.
The report provides an update on how countries adapt to the climate crisis across three elements: planning, financing and implementation.
“This sixth edition of the UNEP Adaptation Gap Report shows the message (isn’t) being taken on board by everyone, because although implementation of adaptation action has grown and adaptation is increasingly being embedded in policy and planning across the world, the money to back such action is still not flowing at the levels required,” said Ms Andersen.
COP26 President Alok Sharma said having interacted with multiple communities displaced by events caused by climate change, there was an urgent need to boost the money flowing into adaptation and make it more accessible by aligning it to locally owned and led initiatives plans.
Ovais Sarmad, the deputy executive secretary for the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), said at least 30 developing countries have submitted their national adaptation plans (NAPs) and 91 others have submitted proposals, amounting to $217 million, to the Green Climate Fund for NAP formulation.
“We’re urging governments to endorse and implement the principles of locally led adaptation so that as the impacts of climate change build, communities, governments and finance providers are building a safer, more resilient world,” said Mr Sharma.
He said new finance announcements — including from the US, Canada, Australia, Japan, Switzerland, Ireland and the UK — have committed to a balance between adaptation and mitigation finance through the Champions Group on Adaptation Finance, launched in September.
In addition, it assesses the implications of Covid-19 on adaptation progress.
In light of the debt situations that many developing countries are grappling with, Mr Sarmad called for reprogramming and resubmission of plans and project proposals to the relevant funding organisations ...
“We need to step up adaptation ambition for funding and implementation to significantly reduce damages and losses from climate change,” she said.
“We need to encourage effective and inclusive planning, ensuring that climate risks are taking into account the whole of society,” Mr Sharma added.