Fri, Sep 13, 2019 - Page 9 News List

World ‘gravely’ unprepared for
effects of climate crisis: report

Trillions of dollars are needed to avoid climate apartheid,’ but this is less than the cost of inaction

By Damian Carrington  /  The Guardian

Illustration: Mountain People

The world’s readiness for the inevitable effects of the climate crisis is “gravely insufficient,” a report from global leaders said.

This lack of preparedness will result in poverty, water shortages and levels of migration soaring, with an “irrefutable toll on human life,” the report by the Global Commission on Adaptation (GCA) said.

The commission, convened by 18 nations including the UK, has contributions from former UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon; Microsoft founder Bill Gates; environment ministers from China, India and Canada; the heads of the World Bank and the UN climate and environment divisions; and others.

Trillion-dollar investment is needed to avert “climate apartheid,” where the rich escape the effects and the poor do not, but this investment is far smaller than the eventual cost of doing nothing, the report said, adding that greatest obstacle is not money, but a lack of “political leadership that shakes people out of their collective slumber.”

A “revolution” is needed in how the dangers of global heating are understood and planned for, and solutions are funded, it said.

Among the most urgent actions recommended are early-warning systems of impending disasters, developing crops that can withstand droughts and restoring mangrove swamps to protect coastlines, while other measures include painting roofs of homes white to reduce heatwave temperatures.

In the foreword to the report, Ban, Gates and World Bank president Kristalina Georgieva wrote: “The climate crisis is here, now: massive wildfires ravage fragile habitats, city taps run dry, droughts scorch the land and massive floods destroy people’s homes and livelihoods. So far the response has been gravely insufficient.”

“I am really concerned about the lack of vision of political leaders,” Ban said. “They are much more interested in getting elected and re-elected, and climate issues are not in their priorities. We are seeing this in the US with President [Donald] Trump.”

Severe effects are now inevitable and estimates that unless precautions are taken, 100 million more people could be driven into poverty by 2030, the report said.

The number of people short of water each year would jump by 1.4 billion to 5 billion, causing unprecedented competition for water, fueling conflict and migration, it said.

On the coasts, rising sea levels and storms would drive hundreds of millions from their homes, with costs of US$1 trillion a year by 2050, it said.

“What we truly see is the risk of a climate apartheid, where the wealthy pay to escape and the rest are left to suffer. That is a very profound moral injustice,” GCA chief executive Patrick Verkooijen said.

However, the moral imperative alone would not drive change, he said, and the report also makes an economic case.

“It is a nation’s self-interest to invest in adaptation,” Verkooijen said.

The report estimates spending US$1.8 trillion by 2030 in five key areas could yield US$7.1 trillion in net benefits, by avoiding damages and increasing economic growth.

UK Chair of the Environment Agency Emma Howard Boyd is a member of the GCA.

The agency has warned that England could run short of water within 25 years, and increased coastal and river flooding might force some towns to be abandoned.

In July, the UK government’s official advisers said they were shocked at the lack of proper plans to protect people from the effects of the climate crisis.

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