2020 was not only the year of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was also the year of intensifying climate change: high temperatures, floods, droughts, storms, wildfires and even locust plagues. Even more worryingly, the world is heading for at least a 3°C temperature rise this century.
We need strong action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to meet the Paris Agreement goals of holding global warming this century to well below 2°C and pursuing 1.5°C. This would limit the impacts of climate change on vulnerable communities and ecosystems.
Adaptation holds the key
Nations must urgently step-up action to adapt to the new climate reality or face serious costs, damages and losses.
Adaptation – reducing countries’ and communities’ vulnerability to climate change by increasing their ability to absorb impacts and remain resilient – is a pillar of the Paris Agreement. The agreement requires all signatories to plan and implement adaptation measures through national adaptation plans, studies, monitoring climate change effects and investment in a green future.
The UNEP Adaptation Gap Report 2020 looks at where the world stands in planning, financing and implementing adaptation actions. It finds that while nations have advanced in planning, more financing is needed to scale up adaptation projects so they can help protect against climate impacts such as droughts, floods and sea-level rise. Public and private finance for adaptation must be stepped up urgently, along with faster implementation.
The report also calls for an increase in nature-based solutions – locally appropriate actions that address societal challenges, such as climate change, and provide human well-being and biodiversity benefits by protecting, sustainably managing and restoring ecosystems.
Click on below to look at the findings and recommendations of the Adaptation Gap Report 2020 in more detail.
Even amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the world must also plan for, finance and implement climate change adaption measures or face serious costs, losses and damage.
There is no doubt – adaptation makes economic sense. The Global Commission on Adaptation in 2019 estimated that a USD 1.8 trillion investment in adaptation measures would bring a return of USD 7.1 trillion in avoided costs and other benefits.
Achieving the 2°C target of the Paris Agreement could limit losses in global annual growth to up to 1.6 per cent, compared to 2.2 per cent for 3°C.
While COVID-19 and its economic fallout has seen adaptation fall down the political agenda, at the same time, pandemic recovery and stimulus packages could lead to a more climate resilient and low-emission recovery if implemented well.
The Adaptation Gap Report 2020 celebrates the global progress that been made on adaptation over the last decade. But further ambition and action, backed by finance, is urgently needed.
Learn more about UNEP's work in Ecosystem-based Adaptation