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The end is nigh? Bleak report says that the planet is ‘gravely’ unprepared for climate crisis

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The world’s
readiness for the inevitable effects of the climate crisis is “gravely
insufficient”, according to a report from global leaders.

This lack of
preparedness will result in poverty, water shortages and levels of migration
soaring, with an “irrefutable toll on human life”, the report warns.

Trillion-dollar
investment is needed to avert “climate apartheid”, where the rich escape the
effects and the poor do not, but this investment is far smaller than the
eventual cost of doing nothing.

The study
says the greatest obstacle is not money but a lack of “political leadership
that shakes people out of their collective slumber”.

A
“revolution” is needed in how the dangers of global heating are understood and
planned for, and solutions are funded.

The report
has been produced by the Global Commission on Adaptation (GCA), convened by 18
nations.

It has
contributions from the former UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon, the Microsoft
founder, Bill Gates, environment ministers from China, India and Canada, the
heads of the World Bank and the UN climate and environment divisions, and
others.

Among the most
urgent actions recommended are early-warning systems of impending disasters,
developing crops that can withstand droughts and restoring mangrove swamps to
protect coastlines, while other measures include painting roofs of homes white
to reduce heatwave temperatures.

In the
foreword to the report, Ban, Gates and Kristalina Georgieva, the World Bank
chief executive, write: “The climate crisis is here, now: massive wildfires
ravage fragile habitats, city taps run dry, droughts scorch the land and
massive floods destroy people’s homes and livelihoods. So far the response has
been gravely insufficient”.

Ban said: “I
am really concerned about the lack of vision of political leaders. They are
much more interested in getting elected and re-elected, and climate issues are
not in their priorities. We are seeing this in the US with President Trump”.

The report
says severe effects are now inevitable and estimates that unless precautions
are taken, 100 million more people could be driven into poverty by 2030.

It says the
number of people short of water each year will jump by 1.4 billion to 5
billion, causing unprecedented competition for water, fuelling conflict and
migration.

On the
coasts, rising sea levels and storms will drive hundreds of millions from their
homes, with costs of US$1 trillion a year by 2050.

Patrick
Verkooijen, the chief executive of the Global Centre on Adaptation, said: “What
we truly see is the risk of a climate apartheid, where the wealthy pay to
escape and the rest are left to suffer. That is a very profound moral
injustice.”

But the
moral imperative alone will not drive change, he said, and the report also
makes an economic case.

“It is a
nation’s self-interest to invest in adaptation,” Verkooijen said.

The report
estimates spending US$1.8 trillion by 2030 in five key areas could yield US$7.1
trillion in net benefits, by avoiding damages and increasing economic growth.

The GCA
report, which was released ahead of a UN summit on climate change later this
month, focuses on several areas of adaptation:

Early
warning systems

Just 24
hours’ warning of a coming storm or heatwave can cut the ensuing damage by 30
per cent, saving lives and protecting assets worth at least 10 times the cost
of the alert system.

In
Bangladesh, such systems, plus shelters and coastal protection, have already
saved hundreds of thousands of lives since the Bhola cyclone in 1970 killed at
least 300,000 people.

Climate-ready
infrastructure

Such
measures can add 3 per cent to the upfront costs but save US$4 for every US$1
spent. Flood protection is key and Shanghai, and other Chinese “sponge cities”
are deploying porous pavements, rooftop gardens and trees in parks to soak up
water from downpours.

Relatively
simple measures can also be effective, such as painting roofs with reflective
white paint. In the Indian city of Ahmedabad, this has cut temperatures in the
rooms below by 5 degrees Celsius.

Mangrove
protection

These
coastal forests buffer storms, protecting 18 million people and preventing
US$80 billion a year in flood damage. They also provide nurseries for fish and
tourist attractions worth billions.

But
construction, pollution and global heating have destroyed many mangrove
forests, from Australia to Mexico.

The GCA says
the benefits of mangrove preservation and restoration are up to 10 times the
cost.

source: theguradian.com/AP

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