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The climate crisis: Bill Gates recommends adapting

A new document by global opinion leaders points to the economic and environmental value of investing in ventures that promote adaptation to the climate crisis

Ran Ben Michael, Angle - Science and Environment News Agency

Solutions to the climate crisis. Illustration: shutterstock
Solutions to the climate crisis. Illustration: shutterstock

At the beginning of September 2019, Ban Ki-moon, the former Secretary General of the United Nations, Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, and Kristalina Georgieva, the Director General of the International Monetary Fund, signed the first report of the Global Commission on Adaptation, which they chair. They were joined by more than 30 other leaders, such as the mayor of Paris, the Canadian environment minister, and the president of the Marshall Islands, in calling for investment in measures to adapt to the climate crisis, which, according to the report, are expected to yield a huge economic return.

The initiative was established in October 2018 to drive moves to deal with the climate crisis through technology, investments and planning and to examine how the social and economic systems can be better adapted to the reality of the climate crisis. The understanding that guides the work is that the goals of the Paris Agreement of slowing the rate of global warming and stopping it below the threshold of an increase of 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius on average by the end of this century, will probably no longer be achieved. Conversely, an increase of 3 or 4 degrees Celsius will lead to the crossing of tipping points that will change the natural life-supporting systems beyond recognition. According to the study that forms the basis of the new report, an investment of 1.8 trillion dollars in adaptation measures during the next decade - according to all studies, the critical decade for success in mitigating the climate crisis to a livable state - will yield benefits in the amount of at least 7 trillion.

in the new report Five main areas are highlighted in which to invest (ranked according to the order of expected return on investment): early warning systems against extreme weather events, infrastructure (buildings, roads, bridges) that are better adapted to changing climate conditions, agriculture that is suitable for hotter and drier conditions, restoration of Coastal ecosystems of mangroves that provide coastal protection from wave energy, thereby reducing shoreline erosion and the risk of flooding during storms, and protecting water supply systems from pollution and leaks.

In the field of warning against extreme weather, for example, it is estimated that one day earlier of preparing for an extreme event (such as a hurricane) is enough to enable a reduction of up to 30 percent of the economic damage. In the field of infrastructure that will yield a return of about 4 trillion dollars, painting roofs white significantly reduced the number of deaths in the city of Ahmedabad in India, because it moderated the effect of heat waves on the residents' homes and the built space (reducing the urban heat island). In the field of agriculture, the distribution of seeds genetically adapted to dry conditions - as has already been done with corn in Zimbabwe - increases the yield per unit area by tens of meters.

Triple yield

These investments are characterized by a triple return: they prevent future losses (property damage, health, etc.), they have positive economic benefits (such as a return on the sale of more agricultural produce), and they lead to additional social and environmental achievements (reducing hunger, for example); According to the World Bank, investment in the climate crisis is part of the quest for a more equal world and without it at least 100 million more people will be part of the global poverty cycle at the end of the current decade.

A possible source of financing for this type of investment could be the diversion of capital currently invested in the energy industry away from fossil fuels in favor of a low-carbon economy. According to a report by an American think tank, about 110 institutions managing about 11 trillion dollars have stopped investing in this sector. Another source is the choice of innovative investments: for example, instead of investing in engineering-based solutions such as the construction of concrete dams to protect against floods - which are high-energy and cement projects that emit greenhouse gases with no return on investment - you can invest in natural capital-based solutions, such as the restoration of the mangrove forests that live on the coasts Immersed in salty water, and absorb carbon dioxide and provide a host of ecological benefits, such as creating a unique and protected environment for young fish through their roots (nursery). Another example of this approach is the Dutch project "A place for the stream", which replaces artificial engineering interventions with a combination of measures based on natural principles, for example the use of floodplains (flooding strips) along the banks of the stream to mitigate the risk of floods downstream.

A possible source of financing for this type of investment could be the diversion of capital currently invested in the energy industry away from fossil fuels in favor of a low-carbon economy. Photo: christine roy – unsplash

But in some cases, the report warns, it will be impossible to invest in coping and the preferred alternative is the relocation of communities whose resilience is not guaranteed, for example coastal settlements and especially in island countries that are only slightly higher than sea level, such as the Maldives.

There are also public measures: in Fiji, an "environmental and climate change tax" is imposed on certain services and products (plastic bags, luxury cars, or yachts) as well as on high incomes and is directed to projects to strengthen the community's resilience, mainly in the infrastructure sector. In Miami, USA, a fund of 400 million dollars was established from the municipality's revenues to finance the city's adaptation to sea level rise.

investment mix

However, it is not enough to increase the scope of investments in the climate sector, but its nature must also be changed. According to a review by the Organization of OECD countries, it appears that less than 20 percent of the investment in the field is directed to adaptation, while the vast majority is directed to reducing emissions. This investment policy endangers poorer countries, which are already suffering from the effects of the climate crisis. According to the report, only a similar and parallel investment in mitigation (Mitigation) and adaptation will also balance the capacity for resistance in the present alongside the recession of the crisis in the longer term.

By the way, the gap between adaptation and abatement is particularly large in private sector investments devoted almost entirely to reducing emissions. According to this report, the total investment in 2017 was about 71 billion dollars, with at least 100 billion dollars needed by 2022 to help developing countries, especially island countries, find the path to sustainability.

The report was published ahead of the UN climate summit held in September 2019. At the summit itself, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, together with the World Bank and several governments, announced a first investment in accordance with the report's recommendations. The $790 million investment will be directed mainly to improving the ability of farmers with small farms to add and produce food under the changing climate conditions.

Bill and Melinda Gates. Partners for the first investment in accordance with the recommendations of the report, at the level of 790 million dollars

More adoption and less adaptation

In Israel, the source of public investment is the national plan for a prosperous economy in a sustainable environment 2050 led by the Ministry of Environmental Protection in collaboration with other ministries. As part of the program, the partners were asked to identify high cost-effective investments. Most of the goals set by the ministries are in the field of domestication and less in the field of adaptation, but there are goals that have a double value such as urban forestry which reduces the heat load created by the urban heat island and also absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

In Israel, the quality of the cost-benefit analysis of policy measures does not meet the challenges of dealing with the climate crisis where it is difficult to identify the right points for intervention through public investment," says Dr. Uri Sharon, an expert in natural resource management and environmental markets. "Furthermore, the discourse in Israel, even that of policy-making, is not biased towards climate change; This is especially true in local government policy, which - with the exception of a limited number of cities - is far from promoting coping and adaptation moves. Even if the professional level in the central government sets goals aimed at coping, they are not translated into steps on the ground in the urban space. To the extent that there is a gap between professional knowledge and the budgeted legislation and government decisions, there is no incentive or obligation to make such investments. At the political level, the climate crisis is not yet part of the agenda and therefore the professional work does not produce binding policy tools".

2 תגובות

  1. It's hard to believe we've reached this point. Global warming and its consequences have been known to us for the past 100 years. It was widely talked about and our leaders chose to ignore it (apparently because there is no specific leader to point the finger of blame at). I think even today, despite all the noise and fuss, people still don't understand what global warming is. I meet countless such people. If you are one of them, I recommend that you read the following article: https://beautiful.co.il/התחממות-גלובלית/התחמות-גלובלית/

  2. This is why they say "good morning Eliyahu"!
    Because we are in "Hidan"
    have been writing about the need to adapt for a long time,
    Still, better late than never.

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