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According to the United Nations, climate change adaptation will soon cost between US$200 billion and US$500 billion a year, even if the world meets its goal of limiting global warming to two degrees Celsius. But the latest available data suggests that only US$25 billion was invested in adaptation in 2014.
In addition, research shows that, despite the efforts of the UN’s current climate talks in Paris, France — which include the proposal for a more ambitious goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius — a two degree target is unlikely to be met.
This leaves a huge and ever-increasing gap between what is needed to respond to climate change on the ground, and what is available to make things happen.
In this interview, Heather McGray, an adaptation researcher at the World Resources Institute, argues that big changes must happen from the ground up. She says that untapped resources such as small businesses could play a crucial role by investing in adaptation efforts and adopting practices to cope with changing climate.
The mainstream conversation on climate response tends to focus more on big firms, but small businesses account for 60 per cent of all employment in developing countries, she says.