Rich countries “have the responsibility” to ensure enough money reaches the areas of the world most vulnerable to climate effects, the head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has said.
People in vulnerable areas – Africa, Asia, South America, small islands and the Arctic – suffered 15 times as many deaths between 2010 and 2020 because of floods, droughts and storms compared with less vulnerable regions, IPCC analysts found.
In a report published on Monday, UN climate scientists underlined the need for drastic greenhouse gas emission cuts and support for developing countries to adapt to worsening conditions.
The authors warned that climate change is already affecting millions of people around the world and its effects will continue to escalate with every fraction of warming, hitting hardest those who are least responsible for emissions.
The report said more money is still going to fossil fuels than to climate mitigation and adaptation, and investment needs to more than triple worldwide.
IPCC chairman Dr Hoesung Lee said: “Money cannot solve everything but it is critical to narrowing the gap between those who are most vulnerable and those who enjoy greater security.
“The report finds the path to a safer, more equitable and sustainable future for all requires three to six times the current amount of financing.
“It’s not just about the quantity of money, it’s also about how and where it is located. Vulnerable areas just don’t have enough money to fund the urgent need to adapt to climate change.
“Countries involved with rich technology and rich financial resources have the responsibility, recognised by the climate convention and Paris agreement, to help the other regions lacking those resources so that all of us can have a better future.”
The IPCC identified insufficient mobilisation of finance as a key barrier to climate action, along with limited resources, lack of business and citizen engagement, low climate literacy, lack of political commitment, limited research and a low sense of urgency.
At a press conference in Interlaken, Switzerland, where the report was signed off by UN member states, Dr Lee said the global economic benefit of keeping the Earth’s temperature rise within 2C of pre-industrial levels outweighs the cost of mitigation efforts.
Fiona Duggan, policy lead at the Ashden climate change charity, said: “The report made crystal clear that we need to be fighting climate breakdown on all fronts, in all countries, at rapid speed.
“In the global south, it means supporting renewable energy take-up that will allow countries to leapfrog the carbon-intensive infrastructure that has done so much damage to the world into clean, renewable, cheaper energy, accessible to the poor and the rich.”
Lewis Johnston, director of policy at ShareAction, said of the report: “This devastating analysis is a resounding call to governments and business to take urgent action to avoid a catastrophe for people, planet and species.
“The role of the financial sector will be vital if we are to succeed in the ambition to transition to net-zero economies.
“That means businesses and investors must set out clear plans on how they intend to invest in green technologies. They must show how they intend to move away from investing in high-emitting industries and ploughing money into new oil and gas.”