New data highlights that some of the poorest people living in major developing countries are only receiving up to $5 each on adaptation.
The study, led by social scientists at University College London was the first of its kind to map out adaptation spending differences across 10 major global cities. What it found, unsurprisingly is that the world’s poorer cities spend far less on adaptation than the richest.
This makes sense, if economics were the only variable here. But when each city’s spending is in relation to the threats of climate change, that straight-forward economic logic becomes a scary pre-curser to what could be highly vulnerable future populations.
The study chose to look at 10 megacties around the world and their spending on Climate Adaptation programs. These include New York, Paris, London, Beijing, Mexico City, Sao Paulo, Mumbai, Jakarta, Lagos and Ethiopia’s Addis Ababa.
With many of these cities now home to upwards of 20 million people already, and cities such as Addis Ababa with population growth rates of close to 4% per year, you can imagine why the authors wanted to focus on spending at the city level.
Around the world, climate adaptation is still incredibly under-resourced. In fact, across all 10 cities (who are all part of the Compact of Mayors) it only represented a maximum of 0.33% of a city’s gross domestic product. That’s only one third of a percent of annual income. As you can imagine however, this varies significantly across each city.
Due to economic differences around the world, this means that there is an incredible range of spending – from just over $20 million in Addis Ababa to over $2.2 billion each year in New York.
Now if that number in New York sounds like a lot, consider that by 2050, it is expected that their annual flooding costs alone could match $2 billion each year.
As you can imagine, developing cities often push their investments more towards health and agriculture, whereas developed cities will spend much more on advanced energy and water infrastructure. This means that while developing cities are investing on critical immediate needs, they are missing out on the future, longer term opportunities that will protect developed cities like New York for years to come.
The authors argue that while we often hear about Adaptation funds being made available for developing countries, that the reality on the ground is “driven by wealth rather than the number of vulnerable people”.
Lets look at the numbers:
This graph highlights the total amount (in Pounds) of money spent each year on adaptation across the 10 cities. As you can see, New York is spending almost twice the amount of London and Paris.
To the right of the graph, you can see that Jakarta, Lagos and Addis Ababa are spending as little as a 100th to a 1000th of the cost on adaptation.
This is obviously linked to the economic differences across cities. However, the study also found that even when you look at the percentage of GDP per city spent on adaptation, developing cities (outside of Beijing) are still lagging behind considerably.
Beijing in contrast is making a significant investment in Adaptation. Considering the immense air pollution and intense winters the city experiences, you can imagine how needed this investment is.
When you then break this down to estimate how much each city is then spending per person, the numbers get really scary.
As you can see, while Ethiopia has embarked on an incredible sustainability plan for the next 10 years, Addis Ababa is only able to spend just over $6 per person each year on its future adaptation needs.
For Lagos, a city with possibly 12 million people living on less than $1.25 per day, officials are only able to spend less than $8 per year helping to protect and prepare its population from the impacts of Climate change.
With an expectation for the city to reach over 25 million people by 2020, and cities like Jakarta already well over that mark, this level of spending will unfortunately lead to millions of people living ever increasingly vulnerable lives, as the impacts of Climate change continue to rise.
Recently, Opal Tometi was alleged to have linked Climate change as a key element of globalised racism. Opal is one of the #BlackLivesMatter co-founders in the USA, and was urged to make this link after viewing this map:
As you can see, Climate vulnerability unfortunately has very little relation with the amount of money being spent on protecting against it.