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Climate Change Adaptation Costs In Developing Countries Could Rise $500 Billion Per Year

A new United Nations Environmental Programme report concludes that the cost of climate change adaptation could rise between $280 and $500 billion by 2050.

The second in the United Nations Environmental Programme’s (UNEP) Adaptation Gap reports, the new report assesses the difference between the financial cost of climate change adaptation in developing countries and the amount of money that is actually available to meet these costs — a difference the UNEP calls the “adaptation finance gap.” In conclusion, the report finds that total bilateral and multilateral funding for climate change adaptation in developing countries has risen significantly over the last five years, but that there still remains a sizeable funding gap unless new and additional is quickly made available.

Specifically, the report finds that funding for climate change adaptation in developing countries now sits at $22.5 billion, and notes that, in the wake of the signing of the Paris Agreement, “More robust information on adaptation needs, costs, and finance is needed to guide and inform the successful implementation of the Paris Agreement.”

“It is vital that governments understand the costs involved in adapting to climate change,” said Ibrahim Thiaw, Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme.

“This report serves as a powerful reminder that climate change will continue to have serious economic costs. The adaptation finance gap is large, and likely to grow substantially over the coming decades, unless significant progress is made to secure new, additional and innovative financing for adaptation.”

The important contribution this new report makes to the overall discussion is in the way that it builds upon previously accepted adaptation cost estimates made in a 2010 World Bank report, in which the cost of adapting to climate change was estimated to be between $70 to $100 billion annually for the period 2010 to 2050. The authors, who represent 15 institutions, and the report, which was reviewed by 31 experts, concluded that the World Bank’s original estimates were likely to be a significant understatement of the necessary costs. Rather, the UNEP report finds the true cost of climate change adaptation for developing countries is likely to be in the range of $140 to $300 billion per year in 2030, and between $280 and $500 billion in 2050.

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