Adaptation refers to measures that lessen the impacts of climate change on individuals, companies, institutions or society as a whole. In this broad sense, adaptation is sometimes used to describe any of the risks and opportunities that companies face in response to climate change.

In policy discussions, however, the term is used more narrowly to refer to actions that reduce the vulnerability of poor communities to the effects of climate change. Adaptation financing is necessary to address changes in the climate that are already happening or are very likely to happen over the coming decades as a result of greenhouse gases that have already been emitted. These changes were disproportionately caused by the actions of industrialized countries, which has led some commentators to refer to an ‘adaptation debt’.

Cost estimates by the World Bank suggest that $70 – $100 billion per year will be needed globally to cope with the impact of climate change by 2050, while the UNFCCC estimates a figure of $28 – 67 billion per year for developing countries by 2030.

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