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10 September 2019
By Adam Vaughan
Countries could reap a $7 trillion economic prize by investing in measures such as flood defences and protecting mangrove forests to adapt to a rapidly-changing climate, according to an analysis backed by Ban Ki-Moon, Bill Gates and the head of the World Bank.
The first report from the Global Commission on Adaptation argues it is time to rethink climate change adaptation as an opportunity rather than a burden. “Clearly we are seeing climate impacts are here and now. One can’t avoid opening the paper and seeing what is happening around the world,” says Manish Bapta at the World Resources Institute and an author of the report.
There is a strong economic case for acting, says Bapta. The commission’s analysis found every dollar invested in adaptation could yield between $2 and $10 in net economic benefits. If $1.9 trillion was spent over ten years globally on making infrastructure more resilient and other measures such as early warning systems for extreme weather, it would result in $7tn of total net benefits.
Ban, Gates and Kristalina Georgieva of the World Bank said the world’s adaptation to a warming world has been “gravely insufficient” so far. Meanwhile, “massive wildfires ravage fragile habitats, city taps run dry, droughts scorch the land,” they write in the report’s foreword.
Failing to adapt to climate change is not an option, the commission said, pointing out that growth in global agriculture yields could be depressed by nearly a third without action. The report also rejects the “false choice” of choosing between climate mitigation – cutting emissions – and adaptation. “We must do both,” the commission said.
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