- More than 500 global cities self-report experiencing the effects of climate change, but few have prepared adequate action plans to mitigate the problem, according to a report from CDP. Building resilience is a key step for policymakers to carry out, but it should be combined with infrastructure preparations, the report says.
- The top five hazards cities face are flash/surface flooding, heat waves, rain storms, extreme heat and drought. Of cities' reported hazards, 42% are expected to occur in the short term and 60% are a medium to high likelihood.
- Almost half of the climate hazards that cities reported to the CDP are already occurring or expected to occur in the short term, but few (11%) long-term hazards were reported. Cities need to look past the short-term and start start planning for the medium and long-term risks, the report says.
Like other research on the effects of climate change, this report notes that no global city is exempt from facing climate risks. It also notes the gravity of the situation as more people move into cities, with two-thirds of the world's population estimated to live in urban areas by 2050. The rapid growth in city populations puts additional pressure on urban infrastructure and social services that are already stressed. Climate change is expected to further stress these elements as well as citizens.
Every half a degree more of global warming reportedly will further deteriorate public health in ways such as heat-related illnesses or the spread of disease. Some cities acknowledge this threat, with 17% saying they risk an increased need for public services.
Low-income populations will be the hardest hit by the health and societal effects. Public health and social services already tend to be thin in poor areas and climate change will exacerbate the problem.
The report urges cities to build resilience to combat the effects of climate change. This starts with completing a vulnerability assessment to understand their climate risks. Only 46% of the reporting cities had completed vulnerability assessments. Cities that have completed vulnerability assessments are taking almost six times the amount of climate actions as those that haven't undergone such assessments.
Cities can share ideas and learn from each other, but no one-size-fits-all solution exists for building resilience. Each faces a unique mix of barriers to building resilience, including budgetary capacity, poverty, infrastructure conditions, housing and inequality.
Policy change is the main action cities cite for resilience improvement. That includes long-term planning, flood mapping and community engagement. However, the researchers say cities need to invest in big infrastructure projects and services to effectively increase resilience. "[P]olicy alone will not be enough to tackle the impending climate crisis — cities must take steps to ensure their infrastructure is prepped for upcoming hazards," the report says.