Rich Nations Cut Aid for Climate Shocks, Even as Risks Grew
Wealthy countries have decreased the amount of money they commit for helping developing countries cope with the effects of climate change, even as the need for that spending has grown, the United Nations said in a report issued Thursday.
Aid for climate adaptation fell to $21 billion in 2021, the latest year for which comprehensive data is available, a drop of 15% from 2020, most likely the result of increased financial pressure on wealthy countries resulting from COVID-19 and other challenges, according to the authors.
The United States posted one of the greatest reductions in climate adaptation aid of any country between 2020 and 2021, the authors found. In 2021, the United States committed $129 million in aid for climate adaptation, compared with $245 million in 2020, a drop of 47%.
A White House spokesperson, Angelo Fernández Hernández, said the report “does not represent the full picture of what the U.S. is doing on climate adaptation.” He said the Biden administration secured about $2 billion in climate adaptation funding for the 2022 fiscal year.
Developing nations will need between $215 billion and $387 billion annually this decade to protect against climate shocks, such as worsening storms, crop failures and loss of access to water, the report found. That’s as much as 18 times greater than the total amount that wealthy countries committed for climate adaptation in 2021.
The new data comes weeks before the start of a major United Nations climate summit in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, where aid to developing countries will be a top agenda item. At a similar summit two years ago in Glasgow, Scotland, countries agreed to double their climate adaptation funding by 2025, compared with 2019 levels. Even if nations make good on that pledge, the report said, it would provide just a small share of the additional money needed.
The demand for adaptation assistance has grown. The report notes that under current climate policies around the world, global average temperatures would rise at least 2.4 degrees Celsius, or 4.3 degrees Fahrenheit, compared with preindustrial levels by the end of this century. That’s far more than the 1.5 degrees Celsius that scientists have set as a target, beyond which the effects of warming threaten to become catastrophic.
“Current climate action is woefully inadequate,” the report said.
文／Christopher Flavelle 譯／周辰陽