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UNEP's First Adaptation Gap Report

18-SEP-2015 19:09

    The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) on 5 December 2014 released the first Adaptation Gap Report. The Report was released during a crucial round of climate talks in Lima, Peru.

    The Adaptation Gap Report serves as a preliminary assessment of global adaptation gaps in finance, technology and knowledge. It lays out a framework for future work on bridging these gaps.

    The report says that even if global greenhouse gas emissions are cut to the level required to keep global temperature rise below 2°C this century, still the cost of climate change adaptation in developing countries is likely to reach two to three times the previous estimates of 70-100 billion US dollars per year by 2050.

    Highlights of the first Adaptation Gap Report

    Without further action on cutting greenhouse gas emissions, the cost of adaptation will raise even further as more-expensive action is needed to protect communities from the intensifying impacts of climate change. The report provides a reminder that the potential cost of inaction carries a price tag. It finds that the earlier figures are likely to be a significant underestimate.

    Extending the analysis to all developing countries indicates a chance that adaptation costs could climb as high as 150 billion US dollars by 2025/2030 and 250 billion-500 billion US dollars per year by 2050. These costs are based on the assumption that wide-ranging action is taken to cut emissions. The Report also highlights that Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States are likely to have far greater adaptation needs as without early efforts, the existing adaptation gap will widen.

    Financial Gap:

    • There is evidence that financial commitments to adaptation objectives have increased in recent years, but scaling up financial flows to adaptation remains a priority.
    • Private-sector funding is not systematically tracked. For this reason, estimates of adaptation finance flows are underestimated.
    • The additional revenue can be raised from the international auctioning of emissions allowances and the auctioning of allowances in domestic emissions trading schemes, revenues from international transportation and financial transaction taxes.
    • The estimates show that 26 billion-115 billion US dollars can be raised by 2020, while 70 billion-220 billion US dollars can be raised by 2050, depending on the level of climate change mitigation efforts put in place.

    Technological gap

    • The report highlights that there is a need to accelerate the propagation and international transfer of technologies for adaptation many of which already exist. This requires governments to remove barriers to technology uptake.
    • The report looks at scientifically developed seeds which can be used to sustain agriculture within the context of a changing climate critical for most African countries.
    • For instance, in Madagascar, rice varieties that mature in four months have been introduced. These rice varieties stand a greater chance of reaching maturity before the height of the cyclone season.

    Knowledge gap

    • The report also points to considerable opportunities for using existing knowledge on climate change and adaptation more effectively.
    • For many regions and countries, there is a lack of systematic identification and analysis of adaptation knowledge gaps. 
    • Integrating and interpreting scientific evidence from different sources and making it available to decision makers at all levels is one of the most important knowledge needs today.
    • The report recommends that consideration of knowledge gaps be integrated more explicitly in project to ensure that the knowledge produced responds better to user needs.
    • The report also suggests that a repository of adaptation options can play a pivotal role in informing development decisions.

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