Climate Hazards Threaten 70% of Population Of A Third Of World’s Cities 

climate city

Climate hazards threaten nearly 70% of population of a third of world cities, finds a new report by the CDP, a London-based non-profit which runs the world’s environmental disclosure system for companies, cities, states and regions.

The analysis in Protecting People and the Planet, ( released on October 13, 2022, is based on responses of 998 cities from across the globe to CDP-ICLEI Track in 2022, the world’s leading climate progress reporting platform for cities.

In a year that has seen major climate disasters on a monthly basis, the analysis shows the extent of the vulnerabilities facing cities from the increasing severity of climate change’s impacts.

Four in five cities (80%) report facing significant climate hazards in 2022, such as extreme heat (46%), heavy rainfall (36%), drought (35%) and urban flooding (33%), while for nearly a third of cities (28%), these hazards threaten the vast majority, at least 70%, of their populations.

Close to two thirds of cities (62%) expect these hazards to be more intense in future while over half (52%) anticipate them being more frequent. Moreover, a quarter (25%) is facing a high-risk hazard, such as extreme heat, that they expect to be both more intense and frequent by 2025.

The report shows that cities taking at least one people-centered climate action, where the needs and experiences of people, especially vulnerable groups, are examined and considered from the assessment to implementation stages of action are realizing multiple additional benefits, on top of reducing emissions.

For example:

  • 85% of cities taking people-centered climate actions reported public health benefits, such as better air quality, physical and mental health.
  • 85% of such cities identified social benefits, including increased food and water security and better protection for vulnerable populations.
  • 84% of such cities saw economic benefits, from reduced costs to greater business innovation and improved productivity.
  • Cities taking people-centered climate action are 5 times more likely to realize job creation as a co-benefit of climate action.
  • 75% of such cities reported environmental benefits, like more green space in the city or improved water and soil quality.

With people living in cities at risk from the impacts of climate change, from floods to heatwaves, cities have identified those most exposed to climate hazards. The elderly (64% of cities), low-income households (64%), children (52%) and marginalized and minority communities (47%) are reported as the most vulnerable groups. The resources city inhabitants depend on each day are also threatened by climate change, with water supply (46% of cities), agriculture (43%) and waste management (41%) considered at greatest risk.

The new data shows that close to two thirds of cities (63%) are taking at least one people-centered climate action, according to CDP’s definition. Almost half of cities (45%) are engaging civil society in their climate action planning while almost two fifths (39%) consider vulnerable populations in their climate risk and vulnerability assessment (CRVA).

The report also examines the factors which support and hinder cities from adapting to climate change. Community engagement, access to education and political engagement are key enablers. Increased support from national governments also helps cities meet their emissions reduction targets, as one in five cities say their target depends on decarburizing the electricity grid, national funding for infrastructure and national legislation. Over half of cities (57%) report factors challenging their ability to take climate action, with the most common being budgetary capacity (25%).

The CDP has called for cities to take the actions mentioned below in the development and execution of their climate actions:

  • Set science-based targets, develop a climate action plan to support their implementation and undertake a CRVA to identify climate risks and create an adaptation plan to manage them. Representing a city’s fair and proportionate share of global emissions reductions, having a science-based target is one of the most effective actions cities can take to rapidly cut emissions in line with limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5. Joining the UN-backed campaigns Race to Zero, committing to interim and net-zero targets by 2050, and Race to Resilience, to build resilience and adapt to the effects of climate change are key steps.
  • Identify who to work with to deliver tangible and effective climate action. Cities should work closely with national and regional governments, and the private sector, to deliver mitigation and adaptation actions. They can use their convening power, such as city-business climate alliances, to include multiple stakeholders into decision-making processes. Governments must increase support and investment for cities to help them meet their emissions reduction targets and take action. Deeper investment in sustainable initiatives and infrastructure, and following through on environmental legislation and pledges, is needed.
  • Put people at the heart of climate action.

By putting people, especially vulnerable groups, at the heart of decisions on climate action – from assessment to implementation – lives will be improved, more co-benefits unlocked and better decisions for the future growth and equity of cities made.

For example, cities can:

  • Undertake a CRVA that considers vulnerable populations
    -Have an adaptation goal or target that addresses key issues such as energy poverty, water and food, and air quality
    -Use their emissions inventory to better understand where, and to whom, emissions reduction measures should be directed
    -Consult civil society in climate action planning and develop plans with a collaborative approach
    -Understand local experiences and needs by actively bringing people into decision-making processes through engagement and education
    -Use their formal and soft powers to advocate for equitable and inclusive climate action to meet the needs of people.

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