Major climate report outlines adaptation imperatives

Countries must invest to protect against the effects of climate change or pay an even heavier price later, according to the flagship report from the Global Commission on Adaptation, published this week. A boost in investment, it said, would create benefits that far outweigh the costs -- by nearly four to one.

A US$1.8tr fund investment across five crucial areas between 2020 and 2030 would help buffer the worst impacts of global warming, and may produce more than US$7trn in net benefits, the report from the Global Commission on Adaptation argued.

The five key areas identified in the report were early warning systems, climate-resistant infrastructure, mangrove protection, better agriculture and improving fresh water resources. Supporting crops that can endure droughts and repairing mangrove swamps to safeguard coasts were high on the agenda, while other actions included painting roofs white to minimise heatwave temperatures.

The report noted that climate influences natural disasters like hurricanes, floods and wildfires, and that these are becoming an increasingly common. Without urgent adaptation, climate change may depress growth in global agriculture yields up to 30% by 2050. It also suggests that those most affected by climate change "did least to cause the problem, making adaptation a human imperative".

The report warns that unless safety measures are put in place now, 100 million more people could be living in poverty by 2030.

"For years we have seen adaptation frankly as the Cinderella of climate change, way behind mitigation," said Christiana Figueres, former executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and a member of the adaptation commission. "The message of this report is either we delay and pay or we plan and prosper."

The UN summit on climate change will be held later this month.

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