Climate adaptation will pose challenges for large scale implementation

The chair of Public Sector Solutions at Swiss Re has said the complexity of the world’s adaptation efforts in the battle to fight climate change present challenges to accomplish on a large scale.

Speaking as the UN COP27 climate summit continues Veronica Scotti (pic) said: “Mitigating climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and limiting global warming to circa 1.5 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels remains our generation’s biggest challenge. But mitigation efforts aimed at cutting future emissions alone will not be enough. We must also finance transformative climate adaptation action to make our world more resilient now.”

She added “COP27 presents the perfect opportunity to focus on the adaptation needed to protect our natural and built environments from forces unleashed by climate change that’s already happened. This includes projects to prevent coastal erosion, buttress ports against wind and waves, and to shield vulnerable cities from intensifying flooding or heatwaves.”

The world’s adaptation efforts are not simple Scotti explained: “Adaptation efforts have some unique features that make them difficult to accomplish on a large scale, and there are several reasons why we have not seen an ‘adaptation boom’ yet. For example, while climate change is a global phenomenon, much of the adaptation necessary to counteract its effects is local, making it difficult to align behind a single metric of success. What is more, without holistic adaptation roadmaps that cut across all levels of society and sectors, it’s challenging to compare proposals competing for the same limited funds, and to be confident that our efforts (and money) are being invested in the very best courses of action.

“Adaptation efforts are indeed costly – and often most needed in regions where people and governments have limited financial resources. And these projects also don’t tend to lend themselves to traditional commercial financing models, as ‘adaptation dividends’ often come as a ‘loss avoided’ rather than additive cash flow an investor can invest in.

“Nevertheless, the sooner we acknowledge adaptation is a global challenge we must tackle with urgency, the sooner we will devise sustainable and effective strategies to protect our societies as holistically as possible.”

“It’s clear that governments cannot do this alone,” she added. “They need public-private partnerships to help unlock much-needed finance, and re/insurers can be critical supporting partners in this global race to improve resilience.

“Over the next two decades, the world requires global infrastructure investments of $3.3 trillion annually, two thirds in emerging markets.  Though we are far from fully unlocking this financing, the recent launch of adaptation-specific funds, backed by public and private capital, is a sign of what can be achieved in partnership. Now we just need more – to create a world that is truly capable of withstanding the burgeoning effects of climate change.”