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Why scaling up climate adaptation is so critical this year

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23 January 2021: Devastation caused by Tropical Cyclone Eloise in the Munhava neighbourhood of Beira, Mozambique. © UN/Brenda Hada

At the 2016 UN Climate Change Conference, Governments agreed to help vulnerable countries adapt to climate change by 2020. This commitment recognized that global warming is already a stark reality, and while the most effective way to reduce suffering is to reach net zero emissions by 2050, we still have to prepare for its impact. But the climate adaptation finance gap is growing. Following the 2020 Global Climate Adaptation Summit, we explain why it is so crucial to scale up and focus financing so that we get adaptation right.

1. Human suffering is soaring; adaptation can save millions of lives

The climate emergency is already causing mass suffering. In 2019 alone, 396 natural disasters were reported – above the annual average of the last 10 years. Between them, these disasters killed 11,755 people, affected nearly 95 million others and caused approximately US$150 billion in losses. Of the 20 countries most vulnerable to climate change, 13 already received sizable international humanitarian aid last year, and almost all are experiencing violence, instability or armed conflict. The International Federation of the Red Cross predicts that in 2050, some 200 million people could need international humanitarian aid every year— a doubling compared to 2018, partly due to the climate emergency.

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