Cities remain unprepared for climate risks

Two thirds of cities around the world are already noticing the damaging effects of climate change, but less than half have developed long-term plans to deal with those threats, finds a new report.

Environmental disclosure non-profit CDP has released a new report on cities and climate risk. It found that of the 530 cities – home to 517 million people – that disclosed environmental data on the effects of climate change, many are already feeling the impact of climate change.

The top five hazards faced by cities are flash/surface flooding, heat waves, rain storms, extreme hot days, and droughts. According to the report, cities expect 42% of these hazards to occur in the short term and 60% are reported as a medium or high likelihood. Meanwhile, only 11% are reported as a long-term threat, which means that cities are underprepared for their future risks.

One reason for this lack of preparation is that just under half of the cities that disclosed their environmental data had completed a vulnerability assessment on their climate risks, the report said. Those that did were almost six times more likely to have implemented measures to prepare their infrastructure, services or people for the risks.

“Infrastructure that they are building now is going to be used for hundreds of years,” Kyra Appleby, global director of cities, states and regions at CDP told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “So if they are not considering the long-term effects of climate change, they may not adequately be preparing their city for what the future will look like.”

The biggest obstacles preventing cities from taking action to prepare their cities are budgetary capacity (87 cities), poverty (66 cities) and infrastructure conditions (59 cities). Meanwhile, engaging with communities was considered the best route to resilience.

Image credit: Ray Garrido, courtesy of Washington Department of Ecology

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