As Earth’s climate heats up, a new international coalition is forming to tackle the impacts of global climate change, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Monday. Johnson was speaking at the virtual Netherlands-hosted Climate Adaptation Summit <www.cas2021.com>- the first global summit focused solely on adaptation and resilience.
The Climate Adaptation Summit, linked with the annual World Economic Forum that opened in Davos, Switzerland on Monday, concentrated on finding solutions to adapt to the effects of climate change, such as more frequent and damaging hurricanes and typhoons, extreme rainfall, drought, heat, wildfires, extinctions, melting glaciers and rising sea levels.
Addressing world leaders, Prime Minister Johnson launched the Adaptation Action Coalition, developed by the UK in partnership with Egypt, Bangladesh, Malawi, the Netherlands, Saint Lucia and the United Nations.
The new coalition intends to help developed and developing countries alike share their knowledge and best practices on local, regional and global solutions for dealing with climate change.
Emma Howard Boyd, who chairs the UK’s Environment Agency and serves as UK Commissioner to the Global Commission, focused on ways that cities can invest in nature-based solutions to tackle the impact of climate change.
“Today’s summit follows significant flooding across the country last week. We know that the climate emergency is bringing more intense rainfall events, which is why local communities are vital in the response,” she said.
“Last week, flood defences protected tens of thousands of people in England from record river levels during Storm Christoph. Investments in flood protections help economic development and also improve health and wellbeing by enhancing green and blue spaces,” said Boyd.
“The Environment Agency, government and local partners have a lot of expertise to share with the world, and we also have a lot to learn. International collaboration, as championed by this coalition, is vital,” Boyd maintained.
The opening session of the Climate Adaptation Summit featured the return of the United States, the world’s second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, to the climate action arena.
U.S. President Joe Biden, a Democrat, took office in Washington, DC on January 20; on Monday his Envoy for Climate, former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, made his debut address in his new role.
Speaking by video link at the first global summit on climate adaptation, Kerry said, “We’re proud to be back. We come back with humility for the absence of the last four years, and we’ll do everything in our power to make up for it,” he told the world leaders.
Kerry said the climate is a top priority for President Biden. “We have a president now, thank God, who leads and tells the truth … and he knows that we have to mobilize in unprecedented ways to meet this challenge that is fast accelerating, and we have limited time to get it under control,” he said.
The United States is working on a national plan, known as a Nationally Determined Contribution, to be submitted to the United Nations under the Paris Agreement on Climate, for emissions reductions to 2030. That would be published “as soon as practicable,” Kerry promised.
Financial help from the United States to poorer countries struggling with the impacts of climate-related disasters slowed to a trickle during Republican President Donald Trump’s term in office, as he declined to keep up U.S. payments into the global Green Climate Fund.
In the long term, driving towards net zero emissions no later than 2050 and keeping a 1.5°C warming limit within reach remain the best policies for climate resilience and adaptation. Kerry explained.
Kerry called on countries to “treat the crisis as the emergency that it is” by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and warned that the costs of coping with the climate change are escalating, with the United States spending more than $265 billion (£194bn) in one year after three storms. “We’ve reached a point where it is an absolute fact that it’s cheaper to invest in preventing damage or minimizing it at least than cleaning up.”
Addressing the Climate Adaptation Summit via video link from Beijing, Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng Monday called for all countries to make joint efforts to enhance climate adaptation action and work for new progress in global climate governance.
Han said that climate change is the common challenge facing humanity, and its response requires accommodating both mitigation and adaptation.
China has attached equal importance to mitigation and adaptation, he said, adding that China is formulating a national strategy of adapting to climate change for 2035 and would make the country more resilient to climate risks.
At the opening session Monday, world leaders heard from German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron. President Macron reaffirmed that €2 billion (US$2.43 billion), one-third of France’s climate finance aid, will be invested in climate adaptation. German Chancellor Angela Merkel committed an extra €270 million for adaptation.