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UN Report: Climate Adaptation Cost for Developing World Increasing
Dec 29, 2014

United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) has warned of a significant funding gap after 2020. According to an UN Report, developing countries may need up to $500 billion per year by 2050 to adapt to the ravages of climate change, dwarfing previous estimates. The figure was about 20 times today's public spending on climate adaptation.  And the number could be further inflated if countries fail to meet the UN target of limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-Industrial Revolution levels.

In 2012-13, the amount of global public finance committed to adaptation was about $23-26 billion, of which 90 percent went to developing countries. Adaptation support was a key sticking point at UN negotiations in Lima to hammer out the broad outlines of a new world pact to curb global warming.

Poor countries most vulnerable to climate-change-induced impacts—extreme weather events, floods, droughts and sea-level rise—are demanding that a rich nation commitment to adaptation and finance help be written into the pact. But many developed countries insist the deal, due to be signed in Paris in December 2015 to enter into force by 2020, should focus on mitigation—meaning efforts to curb planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions.

The UN's top climate science body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), has projected adaptation costs in developing countries to reach $70-100 billion per year by 2050, based largely on World Bank figures from 2010. But the new UNEP report said this was likely a significant underestimate, even if warming can be limited to two degrees Celsius this century.

The climate negotiations have been bedeviled for years by rifts between rich and poor nations over who should shoulder the burden of emissions cuts, which require a politically and financially difficult shift from cheap and plentiful fossil fuel to cleaner energy sources. Finance remains a sore point, with developing nations insisting that rich economies must show how they intend to honour promises to muster up to $100 billion in climate finance per year from 2020. To date, nearly $10 billion in startup capital had been promised for the Green Climate Fund, the main vehicle for channeling the money.

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