How cities around the world are protecting billions of people from climate change

#climate change #green cities #sustainability

Experts have often pointed out that, when it comes to fighting climate change, the world’s cities have both special risks and special opportunities. Climate change has the potential to bring down a hailstorm of consequences on urban areas, including flooding, public health risks and economic collapse.

So protecting the billions of people who live in these places — more than half the global population, and growing — is a big concern for world leaders. But new research suggests that the global community may need to do more to make sure its most vulnerable populations are being protected.

Experts have often pointed out that, when it comes to fighting climate change, the world’s cities have both special risks and special opportunities. Climate change has the potential to bring down a hailstorm of consequences on urban areas, including flooding, public health risks and economic collapse.

So protecting the billions of people who live in these places — more than half the global population, and growing — is a big concern for world leaders. But new research suggests that the global community may need to do more to make sure its most vulnerable populations are being protected.

“The underlying thing that we were looking to achieve in this project was to create a baseline for measuring whether action to adapt to climate change in different cities around the world is improving or not, and whether there are any disparities between cities,” said the new study’s lead author, Lucien Georgeson, a doctoral researcher in the University College London’s geography department.

Not all cities are equal

Georgeson and his colleagues selected 10 cities from around the world to analyze in their study: London, Paris, New York, Mexico City, Jakarta, Lagos, Addis Ababa, Sao Paulo, Beijing and Mumbai.

The selection criteria dictated that each one be a megacity — meaning it either has a population of more than 3 million or a gross domestic product (GDP) in the top 25 of cities worldwide (or both) — as well as a C40 member.

Additionally, the cities represent a diverse set of geographic regions around the world, including Europe, North and South America and various regions of both Asia and Africa. They also have different climates, face different types of risks and exist at differing levels of socioeconomic development.

The researchers then analyzed the ongoing climate adaptation efforts in each city between 2009 and 2015, or what they call the “adaptation economy.” This essentially refers to the total amount that cities spend on sectors that fall under the category of climate change adaptation and resilience, including health, energy, water, disaster preparedness, the natural environment and the built environment.

The biggest trends in their findings lay in the differences between cities in developing nations versus developed ones. In general, cities in developed nations all spend around 0.22 percent of their total GDP on climate adaptation, whereas cities in developing nations all spend about 0.15 percent.

The notable outlier was Beijing, which spends about 0.33 percent of it GDP on adaptation — more than any other city in the study. This likely has to do with the exceptional policy framework kept in place by the Chinese central government over the past decade, Georgeson said, with a high emphasis on developing and delivering climate adaptation plans in each of the country’s provinces.

The researchers also examined the amount spent versus the size of each city’s population and found that cities in developed nations generally spent more per capita. The highest of these was Paris, at about $550 per capita. In contrast, Addis Ababa spends about $6.50 per capita.

The researchers also observed that cities at differing development stages tended to prioritize different types of adaptation activities. While the patterns here were somewhat less clear-cut, the researchers observed that developing cities devote somewhat greater proportions of their adaptation economies to agriculture, forestry and the natural environment. Beijing was an outlier again in this case; along with New York, Paris and London, it spends a greater proportion on energy, water and professional services.

Source: mashable.com