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World Bank to Invest $200 Billion to Tackle Climate Change
As the all-important United Nations climate talks kick off in Katowice, Poland this week, the World Bank Group announced Monday that it will significantly ramp up its investments to fight climate change, and it is urging the wider global community to do so as well.
It will double its current 5-year investments to around $200 billion from 2021-2025 to boost adaptation and resilience in a rapidly warming world, especially in the world's poorest countries.
"Climate change is an existential threat to the world's poorest and most vulnerable. These new targets demonstrate how seriously we are taking this issue, investing and mobilizing $200 billion over five years to combat climate change," World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said in a statement. "We are pushing ourselves to do more and to go faster on climate and we call on the global community to do the same. This is about putting countries and communities in charge of building a safer, more climate-resilient future."
The World Bank provides financial, advisory and technical support to developing countries. This year, the bank financed a record $7.7 billion in adaptation projects, such as a solar water pump for Nabeina village in the low-lying island nation of Kiribati, which is threatened by saltwater intrusion due to rising sea levels.
From Niger to Kiribati, How We Are Adapting to Climate Change www.youtube.com
Of the $200 billion in new funding, approximately $100 billion will come from direct finance from the World Bank. The money will go toward adaption measures such as building more resilient homes, schools and infrastructure, "smart agriculture" that better adapts to changing weather conditions, sustainable water management and responsive social safety nets, World Bank CEO Kristalina Georgieva said in a statement.
"People are losing their lives and livelihoods because of the disastrous effects of climate change. We must fight the causes, but also adapt to the consequences that are often most dramatic for the world's poorest people," Georgieva said.
The expected funding will also help improve weather forecasts, early warning systems and climate information services for 250 million people in 30 developing countries for climate risks, the bank said.
Further spending will also support 36 gigawatts of renewable energy projects; 1.5 million gigawatt-hours-worth of efficiency upgrades; helping 100 cities achieve low-carbon and resilient urban planning and improving transit; and protecting up to 120 million hectares of forests.
The other $100 billion will come from combined direct finance from the International Finance Corporation (IFC) which works with the private sector, the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency, as well as private capital raised by the World Bank.
"There are literally trillions of dollars of opportunities for the private sector to invest in projects that will help save the planet," said IFC CEO Philippe Le Houérou in a statement. "Our job is to go out and proactively find those opportunities, use our de-risking tools, and crowd in private sector investment. We will do much more in helping finance renewable energy, green buildings, climate-smart agribusiness, urban transportation, water, and urban waste management."
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Last week, the Peruvian Palm Oil Producers' Association (JUNPALMA) promised to enter into an agreement for sustainable and deforestation-free palm oil production. The promise was secured by the U.S. based National Wildlife Federation (NWF) in collaboration with the local government, growers and the independent conservation organization Sociedad Peruana de Ecodesarrollo.
The rallying cry to build it again and to build it better than before is inspiring after a natural disaster, but it may not be the best course of action, according to new research published in the journal Science.
"Faced with global warming, rising sea levels, and the climate-related extremes they intensify, the question is no longer whether some communities will retreat—moving people and assets out of harm's way—but why, where, when, and how they will retreat," the study begins.
The researchers suggest that it is time to rethink retreat, which is often seen as a last resort and a sign of weakness. Instead, it should be seen as the smart option and an opportunity to build new communities.
"We propose a reconceptualization of retreat as a suite of adaptation options that are both strategic and managed," the paper states. "Strategy integrates retreat into long-term development goals and identifies why retreat should occur and, in doing so, influences where and when."
The billions of dollars spent to rebuild the Jersey Shore and to create dunes to protect from future storms after Superstorm Sandy in 2012 may be a waste if sea level rise inundates the entire coastline.
"There's a definite rhetoric of, 'We're going to build it back better. We're going to win. We're going to beat this. Something technological is going to come and it's going to save us,'" said A.R. Siders, an assistant professor with the disaster research center at the University of Delaware and lead author of the paper, to the New York Times. "It's like, let's step back and think for a minute. You're in a fight with the ocean. You're fighting to hold the ocean in place. Maybe that's not the battle we want to pick."
Rethinking retreat could make it a strategic, efficient, and equitable way to adapt to the climate crisis, the study says.
Dr. Siders pointed out that it has happened before. She noted that in the 1970s, the small town of Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin moved itself out of the flood plain after one too many floods. The community found and reoriented the business district to take advantage of highway traffic and powered it entirely with solar energy, as the New York Times reported.
That's an important lesson now that rising sea levels pose a catastrophic risk around the world. Nearly 75 percent of the world's cities are along shorelines. In the U.S. alone coastline communities make up nearly 40 percent of the population— more than 123 million people, which is why Siders and her research team are so forthright about the urgency and the complexities of their findings, according to Harvard Magazine.
Some of those complexities include, coordinating moves across city, state or even international lines; cultural and social considerations like the importance of burial grounds or ancestral lands; reparations for losses or damage to historic practices; long-term social and psychological consequences; financial incentives that often contradict environmental imperatives; and the critical importance of managing retreat in a way that protects vulnerable and poor populations and that doesn't exacerbate past injustices, as Harvard Magazine reported.
If communities could practice strategic retreats, the study says, doing so would not only reduce the need for people to choose among bad options, but also improve their circumstances.
"It's a lot to think about," said Siders to Harvard Magazine. "And there are going to be hard choices. It will hurt—I mean, we have to get from here to some new future state, and that transition is going to be hard.…But the longer we put off making these decisions, the worse it will get, and the harder the decisions will become."
To help the transition, the paper recommends improved access to climate-hazard maps so communities can make informed choices about risk. And, the maps need to be improved and updated regularly, the paper said as the New York Times reported.
"It's not that everywhere should retreat," said Dr. Siders to the New York Times. "It's that retreat should be an option. It should be a real viable option on the table that some places will need to use."
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