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U.N.: Countries falling short on implementing climate change plans

By
Jonna Lorenz
Protesters march to call attention to democracy and climate change in Washington, D.C., on November 4. A new United Nations reports says efforts to adapt to climate change are lagging. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI
Protesters march to call attention to democracy and climate change in Washington, D.C., on November 4. A new United Nations reports says efforts to adapt to climate change are lagging. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 14 (UPI) -- Countries are not adapting fast enough to climate change, and financing for adaptation has fallen short, according to a United Nations report released Thursday.

Almost three-fourths of countries have some plans in place to adapt to climate change, but adaptation falls short of what is needed to reduce vulnerability to costs, damages and losses, the report said. Measures include climate information systems, early warning, protective measures and investments in green infrastructure.

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Annual costs to adapt to climate change are estimated at $70 billion in developing countries and expected to rise to as high as $300 billion by 2030 and $500 billion by 2050, according to the U.N. Environment Program's Adaptation Gap Report 2020.

About $30 billion in development aid is provided annually to help poor countries adapt to climate change, and the COVID-19 pandemic has strained resources and shifted priorities.

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"The hard truth is that climate change is upon us," UNEP Executive Director Inger Anderson said in a statement. "Its impacts will intensify and hit vulnerable countries and communities the hardest -- even if we meet the Paris Agreement goals of holding global warming this century to well below 2 degrees Celsius and approaching 1.5 C."

She said half of all resources for climate change should be directed toward adaptation in the next year, including early warning systems, resilient water resources and nature-based solutions.

The report emphasizes the importance of nature-based solutions as low-cost measures to restore and protect biodiversity and reduce climate change risks.

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Four major climate and development funds have invested $94 billion, with only $12 billion in nature-based solutions.

The report pointed out that 2020 was among the hottest years on record, and 51.6 million people globally were directly affected by floods, droughts or storms by September.

The report called on nations to commit to a "green pandemic recovery" and called investing in adaptation a sound economic decision. Measures such as planting trees, building flood barriers and restoring landscapes could provide jobs needed during the economic recession.

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