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Science

Group Urges Climate Adaptation Funding in Pandemic Recovery

January 24, 2021

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — An organization that promotes efforts to adapt the environment to cope with the effects of climate change is calling on governments and financers around the globe to include funding for adaptation projects in their COVID-19 recovery spending.

The appeal was published Friday in a report issued by the Netherlands-based Global Center on Adaptation before an online summit starting Monday that will launch an agenda for boosting the planet's resilience.

"As governments begin spending trillions of dollars to recover from the pandemic, the world has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to build a more resilient, climate-smart future by integrating climate adaptation into their response and recovery plans," the center said in its report.

A group of more than 3,000 scientists from 130 countries also released a statement Friday before the summit linking investment in the environment with pandemic recovery plans.

"The twin threats of COVID-19 and climate change are, above all, caused by human actions. We must do everything in our power to ensure our response to both is coordinated and becomes a watershed moment for investment in a more sustainable world," the scientists wrote.

Former U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a briefing ahead of the summit that the two-day event hosted by the Netherlands "couldn't be more timely."

He said that as the world tackles the pandemic that has killed more than 2 million people and slammed the brakes on economies worldwide, "this summit represents an opportunity to reflect on how the countries and communities around the world can recover better, recover stronger and recover together from this crisis." 

The summit will include online contributions from world leaders, current U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund Kristalina Georgieva and philanthropist Bill Gates. 

Organizers said Friday that U.S. climate envoy John Kerry also will speak at the meeting.

On Thursday, Kerry lamented "wasted years" under the Trump administration to slow climate change and urged faster work to curb fossil fuel emissions as he spoke remotely to an Italian business conference. 

Biden, in his first hours in office Wednesday,  signed an executive order returning the United States to the Paris climate accord. It reversed the withdrawal by President Donald Trump, who ridiculed the science of human-caused climate change.

The Paris accord commits 195 countries and other signatories to come up with a goal to reduce carbon pollution and monitor and report their fossil fuel emissions. The United States is the world's No. 2 carbon emitter after China.

Rejoining the Paris accords could put the U.S. on track to cutting carbon dioxide emissions by 40% to 50% by 2030, experts said.

The adaptation summit will focus more on how to build a world that can cope with the effects of climate change that already is happening.

"While the year ahead will be defined by our recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, the centuries ahead will be defined by how green that recovery actually is," Ban said.

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