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World must 'invest $1.8 trillion' against climate change

September 10, 2019

A global commission — which includes billionaire Bill Gates and former UN chief Ban Ki-moon — has called on nations to invest now to protect against the effects of climate change.

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Ban Ki-moon who is speaking at the launch of a report on climate change by the Global Commission on Adaptation
Image: Getty Images/AFP/N. Kamm//G. Baker

A group of influential leaders on Tuesday issued a warning that the planet would pay a "heavy price" unless countries immediately invested to protect against destructive climate change.

'Triple dividend'

The Global Commission on Adaptation — which boasts Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates, former UN chief Ban Ki-moon and Kristalina Georgieva as part of its team — suggested in a report that an investment of $1.8 trillion (€1.6 trillion) across five key areas over the next decade would yield a return of $7.1 trillion in economic benefits.

Its 81-page report suggested urgent investment was required to pay for early warning systems, climate-resilient infrastructure and water resources, dryland agriculture and mangrove protection.

The group had been tasked with "raising the visibility of climate adaptation on the global agenda" ahead of the upcoming UN Climate Action Summit in New York on September 23.

Read more: Climate change: Energy-linked CO2 emissions hit record high in 2018

Germany commended 

Germany's Adaptation Strategy and Action Plan and Climate Preparedness Portal were hailed in the report as good examples of national action "that strengthens local capacity and provides climate services in a demand-responsive way."

The German state of Hesse was also applauded for its creation of a quality "climate adapted" seal to ensure standards of "climate-fit" nursing care. The city of Kassel was praised for its heat warning hotlines — which alert elderly residents to incoming heat waves — and tips to stay cool.

Adapting to environmental threats

The report also cited examples from the Netherlands, Bangladesh and the UK that they said have helped save lives or protect valuable land.

"If we do not act now, climate change will supercharge the global gap between the haves and have-nots," said Ban.

He cited Bangladesh's response to two devastating cyclones as a good example of the way countries can adapt to environmental threats.

Following the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people in 1970 and 1991, the South Asian nation reinforced flood defenses, built shelters and trained volunteers, sharply cutting the death toll in subsequent storms.

Climate Summit

The commission is expected to unveil additional actions covering food security, resilience, disaster risk management and finance at the UN Climate Summit. A social media campaign, #AdaptOurWorld, was also launched.

It also plans to announce the start of the "Year of Action" during an event hosted by the Dutch government at the UN headquarters on September 24. 

The report highlights five areas where investment is needed most urgently: early warning systems, climate-resilient infrastructure and water resources, dryland agriculture, and mangrove protection.

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kw/stb (AFP, AP, Reuters)