Climate Focus Paper: Cities and Climate Change

Climate Focus Paper: Cities and Climate Change

Climate change and urbanisation are closely interconnected with one another. Cities are important economic hubs. As a result, their demand for resources is high. With regard to climate change there is a high potential for mitigation due to high carbon dioxide (CO 2) emissions, as well as a high need for adaptation to climate impacts. Possible mitigation options are a progressive transformation towards low-energy, low-carbon, or climate-neutral cities.

This paper outlines the role of cities as being drivers of global climate change and at the same time being affected by climate change. In addition to climate change, cities are confronted by challenges in relation to urbanization, natural hazards, and their interaction.

The paper highlights the need to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through climate mitigation policies, as well as the need for adaptation action to combat existing and potential climate impacts. Moreover, the paper underlines the challenges in finding synergies between adaptation and mitigation measures, suggests possible adaptation responses to inevitable climate change, and points out the financial barriers. The main focus lies on rapidly growing cities in developing countries and emerging economies.
 
Highlights:
  • the majority of the world’s population already lives in urban areas, and this trend will increase, with global urban population projected to have increased to 66% by 2050
  • cities consume up to 80% of total global energy production, and account for 71 to 76% of global CO2 emissions. Accordingly, cities have a major role to play in achieving the global climate policy goal of limiting global warming to no more than 2°C
  • cities are highly vulnerable to climate change, and as such, require coherent, carefully considered mitigation and adaptation strategies, where potential co-benefits between the two, are included
  • with carbon emissions still rising, and the threat posed by climate impacts becoming ever clearer, there is an urgent need for action
  • existing infrastructure in developing cities is often of sub-standard quality, and thus fails to provide adequate protection from extreme weather events and changing climatic conditions. The urban poor are particularly vulnerable towards extreme weather events
  • many of the world ́s cities are situated along the coast, and as such are exposed to flooding from storm surges and sea level rise. The risk of coastal flooding is further increased in cities affected by subsidence
  • financing for mitigation and adaptation actions exist, but are difficult to access for cities. Innovative solutions are needed now to close the finance gap
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