As climate related disasters such as wildfires, insect population breakdown and rising damage from tropical cyclones rapidly unfold across the world. Greater attention is being placed on preventing climate change through changing eating habits, deploying more renewable energy anddivesting from fossil fuels.
But preventing climate change is only one half of the challenge, the other half of the equation is climate adaptation and resilience measures to cope with the coming changes. The scale of challenge facing humanity is massive, changes to infrastructure, transport, agriculture are the most obvious, but nearly every part of life will be affected.
The upside of this transformation is that it will provide a huge range of opportunities for entrepreneurs and innovative policy makers in the coming decades to come up with practical ideas on achieving climate adaptation.
The UN Environment program estimates that it will cost US$ 280 – US$ 500 billion a year to adapt to climate change. Spending on climate adaptation is increasing, the World Bank recently pledged half of its recent climate finance package towards such measures in this direction, but this is just the tip of the iceberg, billions more are required.
Awareness that infrastructure, agriculture and financing arrangements should be climate resilient is critical, mainstreaming these ideas and ensuring they are put into practice will be difficult and will require committed people and organisations to make it happen.
Climate breakdown is already a major problem in parts of the world, widespread drought in Northern Syria, Somalia and Darfur contributed to conflict in those countries. Climate change acts as a threat multiplier, sowing the seeds for future conflict, such as crop failure, migration of people and means that when conflict arises the regions are less able to deal with change.
For entrepreneurs and policy makers this is an almost overwhelming challenge, but also a great opportunity, to help cities, countries and communities to adapt will require collaboration from many different fields, science, finance, NGOs, businesses and government.
Understanding and measuring how climate is changing is vitally important, firms like Acclimatise specialise in collecting and analysing data around climate adaptation, their tools include spatial awareness analysis which can pinpoint areas particularly vulnerable to climate change, but also how particular socio-economic groups will be affected. The Alliance for Resilient Coffee analyses the climate risks faced by coffee farmers and identifies those most in need of adaptation support.
The coffee sector is extremely sensitive to climate change. For example in Honduras coffee farmers are experiencing greater heat stress and increasingly dry conditions.
Steps to combat these risks might include planting more drought resistance varieties, changing planting dates, reforesting to help water catchment, other measures would include giving farmers more information about changing climate patterns and access to products like crop insurance.
In 2017 Fiji created a climate adaptation bond with the assistance of the International Finance Corporation (IFC). Fiji is particularly vulnerable to climate change – particularly flooding and increased incidents of tropical cyclones.
Cyclone Winston passed through Fiji causing losses which amounted to a third of the island’s output. The green bond raised US$ 50 million for climate resilience measures as well for investing in renewable energy. The rise of green bonds and climate finance will help finance much needed adaptation measures across the globe.
Infrastructure is a sector which will be fundamentally affected by climate change. Building climate resilient infrastructure will be a major opportunity for construction firms.
As sea levels rise, flooding and major storms increase, physical infrastructure will have to be altered in order to cope with the change.
In the Typhoon vulnerable Philippines improvements in a to road to the region of Samar incorporated resiliency features such as improved drainage, embankment protection and landslide protection. The measures proved their worth when a typhoon hit the area, but did not critically damage the road – allowing vital supplies to be carried to Samar in the aftermath of the storm.
The scale of change require to adapt to climate change hasnot fully been realised yet, but as the world’s climate breaks down it will become ever more obvious and urgent.