UNEP 2022 Adaptation Gap Report and Emissions Gap Report

UNEP ahead of COP27: The world is ‘not keeping pace with climate risks and impacts’

By Kacey Culliney

- Last updated on GMT

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has released its annual Adaptation Gap Report and Emissions Gap Report highlighting a radical shift of gears is needed to tackle the climate crisis [Getty Images]
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has released its annual Adaptation Gap Report and Emissions Gap Report highlighting a radical shift of gears is needed to tackle the climate crisis [Getty Images]

Related tags United nations UNEP Climate change climate crisis Environment Sustainability Global warming UN Global Sustainability Goals COP27

Whilst many countries worldwide are working to tackle the climate crisis, actions are not keeping pace with real-world risks and impacts on planet and people, largely due to huge funding gaps, according to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

In its 2022 Adaptation Gap Report entitled Too Little, Too Slow – Climate adaption failure puts world at risk​, released today ahead of this month’s climate change conference COP27 in Egypt​, UNEP said whilst 80% of countries had at least one national adaptation planning instrument in place – across agriculture, water and ecosystems with many focused on disadvantaged groups such as women and indigenous peoples – a lack of funding was halting wider impact.

“To turn adaption plans into action, we need funding. And this funding isn’t coming through,” ​said Inger Andersen, executive director of UNEP.

A ‘yawning gap’ in funding to be filled

In 2020, international adaptation finance flows to developing countries hit €29.7bn ($29bn), but much more was needed by 2030 – between €164-349bn ($160-340bn) to create true change. “This leaves a yawning gap to be filled – around five to 10 times the size of the adaptation finance that arrived in 2020,” ​Andersen said.

And this funding she said, had to be made even in the face of the ongoing war in Ukraine, global supply shortages and the COVID-19 pandemic, that had all contributed to a converging energy, food security and cost-of-living crises.

“Climate adaptation may not seem like a priority right now. It is,” ​she said. “Even if all commitments are implemented immediately, the reality is that climate change is going to be with us decades into the future. And the poorest keep paying the price for our inaction.”

“It is therefore imperative that we put time, effort, resources and planning into adaptation action,”​ Andersen said.

António Guterres, secretary-general of the UN, said: “Adaptation must be treated with a seriousness that reflects the equal worth of all members of the human family. It’s time for a global climate adaptation overhaul that puts aside excuses and picks up the toolbox to fix the problems.”

Both UN executives said governments, corporations and citizens worldwide had to back the Glasgow Climate Pact, starting at COP27 in Egypt this month.

UN Emissions Gap Report – ‘from climate crisis to climate disaster’

In UNEP’s sister 2022 Emissions Gap Report​, released last month, findings showed that Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement pointed towards global warming of 2.4-2.6°C by the end of the century. In addition, pledges made during last year’s Glasgow climate summit shaved less than 1% off projected greenhouse gas emissions in 2030, despite the world needing to slash 45% off to get on track in limiting global warming.

And according to research from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), climate risks would intensify with each tenth of a degree.

Such trends meant adaptation had to take “centre stage”,​ alongside mitigation, in the global response to climate change, UNEP said.

Andersen added that the report showed the world, as it was, was “sliding from climate crisis to climate disaster”.

“This report sends us a very clear message. If we are serious about climate change, we need to kickstart a system-wide transformation, now. We need a root-and-branch redesign of the electricity sector, of the transport sector, of the building sector and of food systems. And we need to reform financial systems so that they can bankroll the transformations we cannot escape,”​ she said.

“I know some people think that this can’t be done over the next eight years. But we can’t just throw up our hands and say we failed before we have even really tried. We must try, because every fraction of a degree matters: to vulnerable communities, to those that are yet to be connected to the electricity grid, to species and ecosystems, and to every one of us. (…) So, I urge every nation, every government to pore over the solutions offered in this report and build them into their climate commitments. I urge the private sector to start reworking their practices accordingly. I urge every investor, public or private, to put their capital towards a net-zero world. This is how we can jam open the closing window for climate action and start to change our world for the better, for everyone,” ​the UNEP executive director said.

‘Ethical integrity’ for businesses

Addressing attendees at this year’s International Federation of Societies of Cosmetic Chemists (IFSCC) annual Congress in London back in September, renowned British environmentalist Sir Jonathon Porritt told beauty and personal care professionals that businesses had to respond to the converging global crises by ensuring “ethical integrity”​ in every part of the value chain​ – a concept also highly relevant for food and beverage companies.

Ethical integrity, Porritt said, meant investing in ethical actions and priorities, from ingredients sourcing and product formulation through to processing, production, human rights and living wages.

Whilst he said getting this right, at scale, was “complicated” ​and “challenging”,​ it was, today, essential for businesses worldwide.

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