Adaptation summit tackles ‘neglected half of the climate equation’ | The Canberra Times


news, federal-politics, climate change, Sussan Ley, Environment, Bill Gates, Lesley Hughes, Climate Council, disasters

International leaders have pledged to build a “climate-resilient world” at a virtual summit on adapting to rising sea levels, worsening droughts, more extreme heat waves and compounding food and water scarcity. The summit heard climate-related hazards have killed more than 410,000 people in the past decade. New US climate envoy John Kerry said the world was heading towards “fundamentally unliveable conditions” with current emissions, and the world should do all it can to keep within the Paris 1.5 degree temperature target. “There is simply no adapting to a 3 or 4 degree world except perhaps for the very richest and most privileged,” former senator Kerry told the summit. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said government budget and investment decisions must become climate-resilient, especially for infrastructure. “Adaptation cannot be the neglected half of the climate equation,” Mr Guterres told the summit, which concluded Wednesday morning Australian time. The Secretary-General urged countries and banks to allocate 50 per cent of their adaptation budgets towards the developing world, which is disproportionately affected by climate-related hazards. Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley committed Australia to new global finance to drive climate adaptation of at least $1.5 billion by 2025, including new programs and government agencies to enhance resilience and ensure effective relief and recovery from natural hazards. “Adapting to climate change requires a clear and practical strategy,” Ms Ley said. “So this year we will refresh our National Climate Resilience and Adaptation Strategy to provide a roadmap for successful adaptation and resilience activities.” International Monetary Fund research presented to the summit showed that steadily rising carbon prices and green infrastructure could boost global GDP by 0.7 per cent over 15 years and generate work for millions of people. Agriculture could be one of the biggest drivers of growth through green jobs, philanthropist Bill Gates told the summit, highlighting the work that digital tools were able to do to aid adaptation and early-warning notification of hazards, particularly for critical food-supply farmers. “The work on adaptation needs constant reminding because it gets swept away by the [carbon] mitigation work, but we need to fund these new tools,” Mr Gates said. “We need to raise the ambition in both adaptation and mitigation.” Both adaptation and mitigation were now necessary, said Climate Council expert Lesley Hughes, but without near-term carbon emissions targets it would be more difficult to achieve net zero. “The reason that so much adaptation is necessary is that governments like Australia’s have been dragging their feet so long,” Professor Hughes said. “Meeting the 1.5 degree [Paris] target is virtually impossible, but staying below 2 degrees is not impossible. The longer we don’t turn the emissions trajectory down, the harder and harder it is to meet that target.” While the summit discussed public financing of adaptation, others were focusing funding on carbon mitigation. Technologist Elon Musk this week flagged he would soon be offering a $US100 million prize to the best carbon capture technology. “We may need something that’s ultra-large-scale industrial in 10 to 20 years,” Mr Musk tweeted. “For now, by far the top priority is accelerating the transition to a sustainable energy economy.” Australian National University vice-chancellor Brian Schmit urged governments to look to science for solutions to the climate emergency. In a speech on Saturday he noted that the Australian research community was focused on climate change like never before. “As someone once said, nothing focuses the mind like the prospect of facing a firing squad,” Professor Schmit told a side event for the summit.

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