Developed nations accused of over-reporting climate adaptation finance by billions

Pictured: Flooding in Lome

That is according to a major new piece of research from NGO Care, which assessed 112 international climate adaptation projects funded during the five-year period. Collectively, these projects represented 13% of the total global amount spent on global adaptation finance.

Care compared official statements from the national governments and institutions that financed these projects with the amount of funding project partners on the ground were able to access. Across all 112 projects, finance was over-reported by some $2.6bn. If this trend was happening across all projects financed during this period – which Care believes is likely – the financial shortfall would be as much as $20bn.

The Japanese government is named in the report as the worst organisation for exaggerating figures. Care claims that it has over-reported figures by as much as $1.3bn, by including money for projects without climate adaptation benefits in its calculation. Care also names the World Bank and the French government as major contributors to the trend.

The UK Government has announced that adaptation and resilience will be one of its key focus themes for COP26 in November. Care is, therefore, calling for the nation to work with the UN to help buck this trend of over-reporting.

Moreover, Care is concerned that nations and banks will be impact-washing at the upcoming Climate Adaptation Summit. The summit starts next Monday (25 January) and will be attended by dozens of world leaders and business leaders, including Bill Gates. Care International’s secretary-general Sofia Sprechmann said the summit is “an opportunity to remedy climate injustice”.

“Not only have rich nations let countries in the Global South down by failing to deliver enough adaptation finance, but they have tried to give the impression that they are providing more than they do -it is truly embarrassing,” report co-author John Nordbo added.

This injustice must be corrected, and a clear plan must be presented to show how they intend to live up to their commitments with real money – and no reporting tricks”.

Measuring the adaptation gap

The publication of the research from Care comes shortly after the UN unveiled the fifth annual edition of its Adaptation Gap report, which tracks global progress in planning for, financing and implementing climate adaptation projects.

Overall, nations are failing to fulfil the commitments to adaptation they made in signing the Paris Agreement, the report warns. While some nations have accelerated and scaled up efforts, this is the exception rather than the norm.

The UN cites financing for projects in developing nations as one of the biggest challenges. It is calling for better support to scale up pilot and small-scale projects so they reduce climate risk more dramatically for larger swathes of the population.

Notably, the report highlights the benefits of adaptation projects in economic terms. It claims that a $1.8trn investment, spread across of early warning systems, climate-resilient infrastructure, improved dryland agriculture, global mangrove protection and resilient water resources could generate $7.1trn of avoided costs and benefits.

Sarah George

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