Climate change: Low-income countries ‘can’t keep up’ with impacts

18th August, 2021.      //   Climate Change  // 

Because storms have gotten more ferocious, Caribbean island governments claim their adaptation strategies are ineffective.

Climate-related disasters, which are worsening and occurring more frequently, have already surpassed preparations to avoid harm, according to organizations representing 90 nations.

According to the United Nations, the number of poor nations that have climate adaptation strategies has risen. However, it emphasizes that there is little evidence that these programs have decreased hazards.

“We need to adapt our plans to the worsening climate crisis. Our existing plans are not enough to protect our people.” Sonam Wangdi, the chair of the United Nations’ Least Developed Countries (LDC) Group on Climate Change, agrees.

Their plea for action comes as the United Nations’ climate research organization prepares to release its latest assessment of global warming on Monday.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report will give a scientific assessment of present and future climate change, and will be a major reference for policymakers at the UN climate conference in Glasgow in November.

Since the beginning of the industrial period, the planet has warmed by roughly 1.2 degrees Celsius, and temperatures will continue to rise unless governments throughout the world drastically reduce emissions.


Chaos in the Caribbean


Houses in the Caribbean are unable to withstand category five storms, according to climate researchers.

Last year, the Caribbean saw a total of 30 tropical storms, including six major hurricanes, setting a new record. According to the World Meteorological Organization, the region is still on the mend.

Experts believe many buildings on islands like Antigua and Barbuda have been unable to survive the high winds caused by recent storms.

“We used to see category four hurricanes, so that’s what we have prepared for with our adaptation plans, but now we are being hit by category five hurricanes,” says Diann Black Layner, the Alliance of Small Island States’ top climate negotiator.

“Category five hurricanes bring winds as strong as 180 miles per hour which the roofs cannot withstand because it creates stronger pressure inside our houses,” she added.


Falling seawalls in Pacific islands


Pacific island nations believe their defenses against rising sea levels and storms are deteriorating.

Between the middle of 2020 and January 2021, three cyclones impacted many Pacific Island countries.

“After those three cyclones, communities in the northern part of our country have seen the sea walls built as part of their adaptation plans crumbling,” Vani Catanasiga, the chairman of the Fiji Council of Social Services, a body that represents Fijian non-governmental organizations in the country’s Disaster Management Council, agrees.

“The water and the wind repeatedly battering the settlements even displaced some locals.”

Although it’s unusual to see so many storms in such a short period of time, scientists believe the severity of maritime storms has been increasing.

Tropical cyclones have gotten more severe in the last 40 years, according to studies, although there has been no evidence of an increase in the overall number of cyclones.


Uganda’s mountain menace


Increasing landslides and floods, according to several African governments, have rendered their adaptation attempts futile.

Communities in Uganda’s Rwenzori area have been digging trenches and planting trees to protect themselves against landslides and floods, preventing soil erosion.

It hasn’t always been a success, though.

“The rains have become so intense that we have seen huge, sudden floods sweeping away these defences,” said Jackson Muhindo, an Oxfam local climate change and resilience coordinator.

“As a result, there have been multiple landslides on mountain slopes which have buried settlements and farms,” he continued. “Adaptation works based on soil conservation are proving to be increasingly useless in the wake of these extreme weather events.”


Adaptation low on the agenda 

According to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, more than 80% of poor nations have started creating and executing national adaptation strategies.

However, according to a report published last month by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), 46 of the world’s least-developed countries lack the financial resources to “climate proof” themselves.

According to the IIED, these nations require at least $40 billion (£28.8 billion; €33.8 billion) each year for their adaptation strategies. However, only $5.9 billion in adaptation funding was obtained between 2014 and 2018.


Developing countries claim that adaptation is not a top concern for their wealthy counterparts.

The EU and 23 rich countries have promised to make $100 billion available every year to support climate-related initiatives in poor countries, such as carbon-cutting programmes and adaptations to minimize damage from weather-related disasters, under the UN climate convention.

This money will be distributed through the Green Climate Fund, the Global Environment Facility, and other organizations beginning in 2020. Developing nations, on the other hand, argue that the promise has mostly been broken. According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), developed nations made over $80 billion in total climate funding available in 2018. However, it was discovered that just 21% of the money was used on climate adaptation, with the majority going toward carbon reduction.

Developing countries have criticized the industrialized world’s climate financing numbers, claiming that they contain money from normal assistance payments.

Politics, according to some analysts, has hindered adaption preparations.

“When you have other issues like [bad] governance, poverty and now Covid, it becomes very difficult for the plans to work. They simply aren’t a government’s priority,” according to Oxfam’s climate adaption specialist Carlos Aguilar.

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