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UN says poor countries need more money to battle climate change

Image credit: DT

Poorer countries need to be given access to much more finance than current levels to help them adapt to climate change, according to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

In its annual Adaptation Gap Report 2020, the body said that developing countries will broadly suffer more from the worst effects of climate change while being less able to fund mitigation efforts.

Last year saw many extreme weather events, such as torrential rains in Africa, as well as record heat waves and warmer temperatures in places like Brazil that led to extreme forest fires. Scientists have said these are consistent with the impacts they expect from climate change.

Yearly adaptation costs in poorer nations alone are currently estimated to be in the range of $70bn (£52bn), with the expectation of reaching $140–300bn in 2030 and $280–500bn in 2050.

The Global Commission on Adaptation, which is led by Bill Gates and Ban KI-moon, estimated that a $1.8tr investment in the areas of early warning systems; climate resilient infrastructure; improved dryland agriculture; global mangrove protection, and resilient water resources could save around $7.1tr in costs associated with the negative social and environmental side effects of climate change.

The report warns that the economic fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic is expected to significantly dampen the finance available for climate action and this will “disproportionately” affect the most vulnerable countries and population groups.

It calls for greater focus on climate action in Covid-19 stimulus packages as an analysis of the current packages showed that most are not taking advantage of the opportunity to bolster climate positive sectors and initiatives.

“The year 2020 has been one of the warmest years on record; over 50 million people globally have been recorded as directly affected by floods, droughts or storms and wildfires have raged with greater intensity in Australia, Brazil, Russia and the USA, among other countries,” the report states.

“It is therefore more important than ever that countries make progress on adaptation. Strong mitigation action would significantly reduce unavoidable damage costs, particularly in Africa and Asia, which will bear the brunt of future adaptation impacts.”

Inger Andersen, executive director of UNEP, said: “As the UN secretary-general has said, we need a global commitment to put half of all global climate finance towards adaptation in the next year.

“This will allow a huge step up in adaptation, in everything from early warning systems to resilient water resources to nature-based solutions.”

In November, a report found that wealthier countries were ramping up the amount they spend on helping developing countries undertake initiatives to reduce their impact on climate change. 

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