Report: Climate Adaptation Gap Expanding

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Stockholm (NordSIP) – A new report from the Danish UNEP-DTU Partnership, a collaboration between the Technical University of Denmark (DTU), the Foreign Ministry and the UN Environmental Programme, published for COP24 is showing the increased need for climate investments and points towards serious health consequences if these are not seen through. 

The Adaptation Gap Health Report published last week reveals a significant, well, gap between ambitions and perceptions as to how society should function in a future with a severely altered climate and the real efforts being made towards the implementation of those objectives today. 

Climate change means a future with increasing temperatures and far more extreme weather phenomena such as hurricanes and droughts. Major investments are required for climate adaptation, therefore, but this vital effort is actually slowing down, the report claims. 

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The report especially emphasises a growing discrepancy between the costs expected to be incurred in adapting the world’s countries to changing climate conditions and the actual extent of global investment, yielding the so-called adaptation gap. In terms of finance adaptation, it is estimated there is a need for additional investments of up to $300 billion by 2030 and $500 billion by 2050. 

By comparison, economic losses from weather events in 2017 alone were the highest ever recorded, with a total estimated loss of $330 billion, a number expected to rise substantially in the future. 

Simultaneously, the report establishes a clear link between climate adaptation and sustainable development, where investment in climate change helps create healthy communities and flourishing economies. 

The report is the fourth of its kind from the DTU-UNEP, but the first that focuses on the health impacts of climate change. The report emphasises that unless adaptation efforts are significantly upgraded, sickness and mortality from warmer weather and extreme weather events will continue to rise. 

In Europe alone, it is estimated that 255,000 more people over age 65 will die due to heat waves if current levels of engagement to climate adaptation are not increased exponentially. Diseases and death due to higher temperatures such as diarrhea, malaria and childhood malnutrition are also expected to rise. 

Despite these dire warnings, the report also points towards more positive developments: there has been an increase in the number of laws passed and policies surrounding climate change at the global level, with at least 162 nations now directly addressing climate adaptation at the national level. 

The report also suggests necessary steps to reduce the gap between what is necessary and what is currently being done. It recommends the political will and necessary economic resources to establish climate friendly health sector, early-warning systems and a wider set of initiatives to create sustainable development in the poorest countries around the world. 

In the health sector alone, many of the most important actions to bridge the adaptation gap are related to improving basic sanitation, improving access to safe water, and reducing food and nutrition insecurity – all goals in and of themselves under the SDG agenda.

Read the report here.

Image: Pexels

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