Rich countries falling short on half their promised $40bn climate adaptation finance, research says

·3-min read

Rich countries are delivering little more than half the $40bn a year they promised to poor countries to help them adapt to impacts of climate change, according to new analysis.

Research by climate think tank the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) suggests developed countries and multilateral organisations are on track to channel $21.8bn in climate adaptation finance a year by 2025, more than $18bn short of the sum promised at last year's COP26 climate talks.

"You only need to look at heatwaves in India and Pakistan, flooding in South Africa and Bangladesh threatening the lives of millions, to see that providing the means for developing countries to adapt to the now inevitable changes in climate is absolutely vital," said Clare Shakya, IIED's director of climate research.

IIED's analysis of Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) data suggests that two - France and Sweden - have pledged more than their fair share, while five more - the Netherlands, New Zealand, the UK, Denmark and Germany - are at least half way there.

Countries falling short on their fair share include advanced G7 economies USA, Italy and Japan, IIED said.

"Climate change is now a reality," said Madeleine Diouf Sarr, climate lead in Senegal's environment ministry and chair of the Least Developed Countries (LDC) group of 46 vulnerable nations at COP talks.

She told Sky News the latest report from United Nations scientists the IPCC showed the impacts are "worse in poorest countries like LDC countries, small island countries", and highlighted the resources gap "between what is needed and what is actually available".

Read more: IPCC: Climate change taking lives and livelihoods now and driving disease and crop failure, says UN report - but there is still a window to act

It comes as negotiators meet in Bonn to examine progress made since COP26, and just before the G7 leaders summit where the UK - which retains the COP presidency until COP27 in November - will hope to put pressure on other rich countries.

The pledge to double adaptation funding was hailed as a key success of the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow in November.

A COP26 spokesperson said "urgently scaling up finance is essential for global climate action".

"Trust and confidence in climate finance providers can only be maintained if they deliver," they added, saying they continued work on doubling the funding.

Climate finance, the mechanism by which rich polluting countries fund climate measures in poor countries, who have typically polluted the least, has long been a thorny issue of climate diplomacy.

Developing countries missed a target set in 2009 to stump up $100bn a year by 2020. They also fell short on splitting that funding 50-50 between mitigation - measures to cut emissions - and adaptation - measures to cope with climate impacts. Only around 25% of the $80bn of climate finance stumped up in 2019 was allotted for adaptation.

Some poor, climate-vulnerable countries have very low emissions, so stand to benefit better from adaptation measures - though these can be hard to access due to bureaucracy.

The UK's COP26 team and the IIED both say improving consistency and transparency of reporting would help at least determine how much cash was really being spent on adaptation.

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