As the earth gets warmer with every passing year and the ramifications of climate change become more visible, the funds needed for actions that can reduce its adverse impacts, called climate change adaptation, have also shot up substantially. The current public and private financial flows to adaptation, however, are much smaller than needed, revealed the recently released Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report.
The IPCC report, titled Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability, pointed out that domestic funding and international support from developed countries are inadequate. It added that across regions and sectors, financial constraints have been identified as the most significant factor which is leading to limits to adaptation. The report broadly focuses on major facets—co-benefits, risks, cost of mitigation and adaptation—taking into account the trade-offs, technical and financial challenges and options.
“There is a need for better assessment of global adaptation costs, funding, and investment. Potential synergies between international finance for disaster risk management and adaptation have not yet been fully realized,” the report said. It added that tracking adaptation finance flows is important for enabling effective planning and prioritization of investments, assessing whether needs are being met, and ensuring accountability towards funding commitments, such as the $100 billion promised to the developing countries per year by 2020 under the Paris agreement.
A similar distressing trend can be spotted in India as well. In 2019, the allocation to the National Adaptation Fund for Climate Change (NAFCC), formed in 2015, took up a paltry share of Rs 100 crore in the total budget of Rs 2,900 crore allotted to the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change.
“The current adaptation is insufficient to cope with the rate of climate change,” notes Abinash Mohanty, programme lead at the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW).
A 2021 CEEW report, titled Mapping India’s Climate Vulnerability, found that more than 80 per cent of India's population lives in districts highly vulnerable to extreme hydrological and meteorological disasters. Mohanty stresses the need to scale up investments in nature-based solutions and integrate climate risk assessments into planning at the village, district, city and state levels.
In a grim observation, the IPCC report stated that even under the most optimistic emissions mitigation scenarios, where net-zero is reached by around 2050, global warming will continue, but the lack of aggressive climate action would push the planet towards a higher pace of temperature rise. That places the fate of many countries with populations residing in the coastal settlements in jeopardy in the absence of proper adaptation efforts. Some coastal settlements face soft adaptation limits due to technical and financial difficulties of implementing coastal protection, said IPCC.
The IPCC report also identified four key sectors—agriculture, infrastructure, water, and disaster risk management—that require three-quarters of the quantified adaptation finance. Special focus needs to be placed on this in India’s context, as 58 per cent of the country is still dependent on agriculture, forestry, and fishing for their lives and livelihoods.
Mal-adaptation and how it affects marginalized and vulnerable groups, like indigenous people, ethnic minorities, low-income households, and informal settlements, adversely was another aspect that the report brought up. It did so while acknowledging the significance of the different forms of climate-related knowledge and data specific to the indigenous practice-based knowledge for community-specific climate solutions.