Adaptation Finance

How much does adaptation cost?

Estimates vary according to who you ask. Some estimates, (and this coming from the World Economic Forum), assuming that we carry on emitting carbon at our current rate, put the figure at  $4-5 trillion a year needed to invest in infrastructure by 2030, in order to adapt to the serious anticipated changes. In Africa alone, an estimated $350 billion each year will be needed to “climate-proof” the continent over the next 20 years. The same report puts the current cost of adaptation at between $7-15bn a year, increasing by 7% or more each year afterwards after 2020 at the current rate of emissions.

Recent international comittments have put forward $100 billion a year of new additional finance (that is, on top of traditional development assistance or pre-existing funds), by 2020, specifically to help developing countries adapt to climate change. It remains to be seen if this target will ever be it, or indeed, how.

Whose paying for it?

Some of the funds toward climate change adaptation are coming from the countries themselves. Bangladesh has set up a specific trust fund to catalyse resilience building, as has Rwanda. But it’s generally accepted, and argued strongly by developing countries, that since developed countries created the emissions that are causing the problem, then they should be the ones sourcing the money to adapt.

Numerous sources exist to track this funding, although they are having trouble due to the obtuse nature of government funding .

It’s important to note that not all adaptation has to be funded by a government or a company. The climate has been changing for thousands of years, and humans have always adapted. Some adaptation is natural, with the choices of method determined by past decisions, resources available or by determined leadership in a particular area. The difference here is that now more than ever, the climate is changing faster than can normally be anticipated. Rather than gradual change requiring gradual alterations in lifestyle, communities are experiencing much faster change, faster than the rate at which they are able to change effectively.  In some cases, a catastrophic disaster will overcome all other measures, and few adaptation measures will be able to stop it.


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