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How much is the world adapting to climate change?

The 2020 Adaptation Gap Report concluded that nations are lagging behind in actions to curb climate change .

Solar panels

The race against climate change and the goals set out in the Paris Agreement require that each of the signatory countries adapt to measures based on national plans. / Photo: Pexels

LatinAmerican Post | Vanesa López Romero

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Leer en español: ¿Qué tanto se está adaptando el mundo para el cambio climático?

On January 14, the United Nations Environment Program's (UNEP) report on the adaptation gap 2020 was launched. The event was held virtually and was attended by panelists such as Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP; Petteri Taalas, Secretary General of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO); Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), among others.

The race against climate change and the goals set up in the Paris Agreement require each of the signatory countries to adapt to measures based on national plans. The purpose of this Report is to review the progress that nations around the world have made in planning, financing and implementing these measures to adapt to climate change, emphasizing solutions based on caring for nature.

UNEP defines adaptation as “reducing the vulnerability of countries and communities to climate change by increasing their capacity to absorb shocks and remain resilient”.

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In its fifth edition, the report concluded that countries are lagging behind when it comes to implementing these actions . According to the report, it is anticipated that the socioeconomic problems brought by the COVID-19 pandemic will have direct consequences on the ability of countries to “plan, finance and implement adaptation measures in response to the current and future effects of climate change, which will disproportionately affect the most vulnerable countries and populations ”. This, because the priorities of the countries would change, focusing on solving these socioeconomic problems, leading to them not only resorting to solutions that are not friendly to the environment, but also to donor countries changing their perspective regarding the climate action .

In addition, 2020 was not only characterized by being the year of the pandemic, but also by reaching record temperatures, and a high number of floods, droughts, forest fires and even locust plagues. It is clear then that, contrary to what many would believe, the strict quarantines around the world did not mean an aid to curb global warming, but that, on the contrary, the consequences of the pandemic could be seen in the long term in the climate sector . The report draws attention to this, and to the importance of adaptation measures being taken now more than ever. Measures that can take climate change into account when creating socio-economic recovery plans.

Likewise, the report establishes that, although nations have made progress in planning and implementing these actions, there are still very large disparities (especially in financing) to be able to take these models to developing countries, which, in the long term , will be the most vulnerable and hit by climate change.

Some of the most important points covered in the report are the following:

  • International public financing for adaptation is increasing slowly, but there is insufficient data to identify trends in public or private financing at the national level.

  • 72% of countries have adopted at least one adaptation planning instrument at the national level, while another 9% are in the process of developing one.

  • Adaptation financing, both public and private, needs to be scaled up and encouraged in order to narrow the gap.

  • Nature-based solutions - one of the most cost-effective alternatives in the adaptation portfolio - have the potential to make large contributions, but few tangible plans and funding are available for them.

Both in the Report and in the event held last Thursday, it was concluded that despite the adaptation progress that has been made in the last decade, even more ambition, action and financing are needed to stop climate change .