As Climate Emergency Deepens COP26 Advised Prioritizing Adaptation

Following the UN climate science panel’s warning last month that extreme weather and rising seas are affecting people sooner than planned, leaders have urged for greater money and political commitment to assist people to adjust to the new reality.

More than 50 ministers and directors of climate organizations and development banks spoke out at a forum held by the Global Center on Adaptation in Rotterdam on Monday, urging the COP26 climate conference in November to regard adaptation as “urgent”.

They added in a statement that adaptation – which includes everything from raising flood walls to planting drought-tolerant crops and relocating coastal towns – had not received the same amount of attention, money, or action as efforts to reduce global warming emissions.

They claim that as a result, populations all around the world are “exposed to a climate emergency unfolding faster than predicted”. Adaptation can no longer go under-prioritized. It is imperative for COP26 to launch an acceleration in adaptation efforts to enable the world to keep pace with this most profound and far-reaching emergency.

They warned that the COP26 summit, which will be held in the United Kingdom, would fail unless adaptation activities were given equal importance to decreasing carbon emissions.

Representatives of African countries, small island developing states, and other climate-vulnerable countries spoke at the Rotterdam meeting, which was attended by former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, UN Climate Chief Patricia Espinosa, and International Monetary Fund Director Kristalina Georgieva.

They described how communities are dealing with exceptionally severe flooding, droughts, and storms, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic, which is reversing hard-won development gains and relocating people into city slums or even across national boundaries since their land, is no longer viable.

According to Akinwumi Adesina, president of the African Development Bank, Africa is experiencing “a lot of problems” as a result of climate change, including droughts, floods, and cyclones.

Senior officials in attendance asked for an immediate boost in international funding to support poorer countries’ adaptation efforts, which have long been hampered by a lack of funds.

Amina J Mohammed, the UN’s Deputy Secretary-General, stressed the importance of “massively scaled-up investment in adaptation and resilience,” which she called “absolutely critical for those on the front lines of the climate crisis”.

Only about a fifth of climate money has gone to adaptation measures, and “only a fraction” of the estimated $70 billion needed by developing nations to deal with the effects of global warming is being funded, she said.

Richer countries are being pushed to set aside half of their climate funds for adaptation.

However, more than a decade after promising to pay adaptation and emissions reductions equally, the adaptation share has remained persistently low, in part because much of it must be distributed as grants rather than loans.

She and former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who leads the Global Center on Adaptation, both emphasized that considerably more money was needed to put those plans into action.

Georgieva, who presided over Monday’s meeting, said the IMF was talking to its members about putting some of the money they got from a recent allocation of special drawing rights into a new “Resilience and Sustainability Trust” to help vulnerable countries implement climate-change changes.