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530 cities already experiencing climate change effects

41 per cent of those already seeing the effects of the climate crisis do not report taking any actions around the biggest risks and impacts yet.


A new report finds that 530 cities representing a combined population of 517 million report already experiencing the impacts of climate change.


The effects include river flooding in London, extreme winter conditions in New York, forest fires and extreme heat in Quito, and rainstorms and monsoons in Quezon City.


The Cities at risk report from non-profit CDP is based on data reported to CDP’s global environmental disclosure system in 2018 by 620 cities globally.


Flood, heat and drought


The top risks identified by the cities include floods (71 per cent), extreme heat (61 per cent) and drought (36 per cent).

Social risks were highlighted too, including increased risk to already-vulnerable populations (40 per cent), increased demand for public services such as healthcare (33 per cent), and increased incidence and prevalence of disease (25 per cent).


In line with the most reported risk, several cities are taking actions related to flood defence (26 per cent) and crisis management, including warning and evacuation systems (20 per cent). However, 46 per cent of cities do not report taking any actions, including 41 per cent of those already experiencing hazards.

The report concludes that cities that have carried out vulnerability assessments are 2.7 times more likely to report long-term hazards and are taking on average almost six times as many adaptation actions than those that haven’t.


Only 336 cities are carrying out vulnerability assessments to determine their ability to adapt to climate change.

CDP’s 2018 data shows that only 336 cities (46 per cent) are carrying out vulnerability assessments to determine their ability to adapt to climate change.


Long-term hazards


CDP warns that cities are under-reporting long-term hazards, with 42 per cent of overall risks expected to manifest in the short-term, compared to 11 per cent in the long-term. More cities must develop a deeper understanding of these risks and how to mitigate them in order to deliver sustainable solutions, the organisation said.

Cities said that the biggest barriers to taking climate resilience action are budgetary capacity (87 cities), poverty (66), infrastructure conditions (58), housing (58) and inequality (54).


Meanwhile, engaging with communities was considered the best route to resilience (56 cities), followed by land-use planning (44), access to education (35), access to basic services (33) and government capacity (30).


Engaging with communities is considered the best route to resilience.

Kyra Appleby, Global Director, Cities, States and Regions at CDP, commented: “From flooding to forest fires, the impacts of climate change are already being felt across the world’s biggest cities. Climate change, left unchecked, will undo many of the economic and social gains witnessed by cities in recent decades.


“It is vital that cities act to build resilience and protect their citizens from the intensifying impacts of climate change. All city authorities should undertake comprehensive vulnerability assessments. Only then will cities be able to plan for the new normal brought about by our changing climate.”

CDP has launched a new interactive map showing each of the cities along with their ‘CDP hazard score’. This score consists of the number of climate hazards reported multiplied by the severity of the hazards.


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