THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Former United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appealed for a sense of urgency Tuesday as he launched a new commission that aims to accelerate and expand ways the world can prepare for climate change.
“Without urgent adaptation action, we risk undermining food, energy and water security for decades to come,” Ban told guests as the Global Commission on Adaptation got underway in The Hague.
The commission’s mandate is to encourage the development of measures to manage the effects of climate change through technology, planning and investment. Ban is leading the group with Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and World Bank CEO Kristalina Georgieva.
A United Nations panel warned last week that preventing an extra single degree of heat in Earth’s climate could make a life-or-death difference for multitudes of people and ecosystems.
“The costs of adapting are less than the cost of doing business as usual,” Ban said. “And the benefits many times larger.”
The commission has 18 founding nations, including China, Britain, the Netherlands and low-lying countries vulnerable to climate change such as Bangladesh and the Marshall Islands. The United States is not a member.
The choice of the Netherlands for the commission’s opening was not a coincidence; a good chunk of the flood-prone European country already lies below sea level and finding ways to mitigate damage has been a focus.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte told guests at the official launch that people in the Netherlands realized centuries ago “that water knows no borders, that working together to adapt to changing water levels was the only way to keep their feet dry. And that is still true today.”
In a report last week, the U.N. panel on climate change said the planet’s weather, health and ecosystems would be in better shape if future human-caused global warming is limited to 0.9 degrees Fahrenheit (a half-degree Celsius) instead of the globally agreed-upon goal of 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius.)
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