Cities need to cool down

The BreatheLife Network promotes measures to cool cities. This initiative is now showcasing numerous examples of cities that are fighting climate change by cooling down.

Temperatures in cities are around 5 to 9 degrees Celsius higher than in rural areas, according to an article published on UN Environment’s website. This leads to higher demand for air conditioning, which drives up greenhouse gas emissions and warms the planet. These rising temperatures mean that by 2050, 1.6 billion people could face average summer highs of between 35 and 40 degrees Celsius – around 1.4 billion more people than today.

One way to lower temperatures would be the use of technologies, according to the article, which highlights organizations dedicated to this goal. Among them is The BreatheLife Network, an initiative of the World Health Organization (WHO), UN Environment and the Climate & Clean Air Coalition.

Several cities have already implemented measures to cool, with the benefits of improved air quality, better general health and increased resilience in the energy sector. Ahmedabad, a city in India with over a million inhabitants, developed a plan for cool roofs and since 2013 has avoided an estimated 1,100 deaths per year.

Melbourne, Australia is seeking to plant 3,000 trees every year to cool the city by 4 degrees Celsius. Using seawater in its district cooling system, Copenhagen in Denmark is reducing CO2 emissions by up to 30,000 tonnes per year. And in New York City, more than 5 million square feet of roofs have been painted with a reflective coating.

“About 40 per cent of energy consumed by buildings worldwide is used for space heating and cooling,” explained Martina Otto of the need for more intensive cooling measures. She heads the secretariat of the Global Alliance on Buildings and Construction at UN Environment.

Image credit: Raïssa via Flickr

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