Oxford Sustainable Law Programme contributes to UN report on adaptation in the face of climate change

Associate Professor Thom Wetzer, Director of the Oxford Sustainable Law Programme and Lead Researcher on the Oxford Martin Initiative on a Net Zero Recovery, and Arjuna Dibley, a researcher at the Oxford Sustainable Law Programme and Director at Pollination, led the team responsible for a chapter in The Adaptation Gap Report 2021: The Gathering Storm, from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) which reveals that while governments have announced US$16.7 trillion in COVID-19 stimulus and recovery packages, budgets for emergency disaster management have reduced, and less than one-third of countries have delivered funding for climate risk management.

The chapter, ‘Emerging consequences of COVID-19 on adaptation planning and finance’, warns of the compounding impacts that climate change, covid, and rising debt burdens pose to adaptation efforts. 

Thom Wetzer said:

COVID-19 and climate change are compounding on each other to create immense human suffering, and the increasing debt burden is constraining the ability of the most vulnerable to protect themselves from that suffering,” said Professor Wetzer. “And yet, governments are investing trillions in responding to the pandemic without taking proper account of climate adaptation, leaving the risks that a warming planet poses to build. It does not have to be this way; governments around the world promised to ‘build back better’ from the pandemic, and funding climate adaptation should be a central part of that. And let’s be clear: this requires wealthier countries to step up their financial support to those most vulnerable. At COP26, political leaders have the opportunity to work together to do this on a global scale.

The report found that while policies and planning are growing for climate change adaptation, financing and implementation are still far behind where they need to be. The report also finds that we are missing the opportunity to use the fiscal recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic to prioritize green economic growth, that also helps nations adapt to climate impacts such as floods, droughts, storms, and wildfires.

You can read the full report on the UN website.