The United States marked its return to the global fight against climate change yesterday by joining high level talks on ways to better protect people and economies from the effects of global warming already taking place.
Less than a week after President Joe Biden announced the return of the United States to the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, his Special Climate Envoy John Kerry joined China's Deputy Prime Minister Han Zheng, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and other leaders at the Climate Adaptation Summit.
Britain said it plans to team up with Egypt, Bangladesh, Malawi, Saint Lucia and the Netherlands in an initiative that could include early warning systems for storms and investments in flood drainage and in drought-resistant crops.
This online event, hosted by the Netherlands, aims to set out practical solutions and plans for dealing with climate change in the period until 2030.
Ahead of the summit, more than 3,000 scientists from across the globe pressed leaders to better protect people from the fall out of global warming.
"Our fast-warming world is already experiencing major disruptions from more intense droughts, fires, heat waves, floods, destructive tropical cyclones and other extreme events", the scientists, including five Nobel laureates, said in a statement.
"Unless we step up and adapt now, the results will be increasing poverty, water shortages, agricultural losses and soaring levels of migration with an enormous toll on human life."
Climate change could depress global food production by up to 30%, while rising seas and greater storms could force hundreds of millions in coastal cities out of their homes, summit organiser the Global Center on Adaptation (GCA) said.
According to a new assessment of the direct threat posed to humanity by climate change, almost half a million people have died in natural disasters linked to extreme weather events in the last 20 years.
The mortality burden of climate-related catastrophes such as storms, flooding and heatwaves is overwhelmingly borne by developing countries.
Germanwatch's Global Climate Index examined the impact of two decades of extreme weather events, particularly the 2019 storm season, which produced hurricanes and cyclones that devastated parts of the Caribbean, east Africa and south Asia.
"This shows that poor vulnerable countries face particularly great challenges in dealing with the consequences of extreme weather events," said co-author David Eckstein.
"They urgently need financial and technical assistance."