Mind the Adaptation Gap

The world expects a new global climate agreement to be agreed at COP21 in Paris this year. If this new deal is to help developing countries to cope with and adapt to the impacts of climate change, it must ensure that richer countries provide the necessary financial support to meet these challenges. Without such an agreement, there is a serious risk that the world’s inaction on climate will worsen the inequalities that are already distorting our economies and creating dangerous divisions in our societies.

Developing countries are particularly vulnerable to climate change. Adaptation in these countries will be challenging, costly, and must take place in addition to ongoing development efforts. There is still a great deal of assessment, trial and learning to be done with regard to adaptation. Investment in technology, communications, infrastructures, institutions, trainings, outreach and many other approaches will all be required. These efforts will require significant financial support from richer countries.

But in spite of political promises from developed countries as a group, individual countries have been slow to produce the nance to meet those promises. This is leaving vulnerable countries worried that they will be left alone to face the severe consequences of a problem that they did not cause.

In this report, ActionAid takes the most credible - yet still conservative - existing estimates of the total cost of adaptation for developing countries and divides up that cost into “fair shares” for individual contributor (developed) countries, taking account of considerations such as their historical emissions of greenhouse gases and their economic capacity. We find that financial commitments to date made by rich countries fall far short of these fair shares, with serious implications for vulnerable countries.

You can also download the annex for this report for more details on methodologies.