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Cities Aren’t Making Climate Investments Where They Matter Most

BC-Cities-Aren’t-Making-Climate-Investments-Where-They-Matter-Most , Laura Millan Lombrana


More cities than ever are implementing measures to fight climate change and mitigate the impact of extreme weather events on their communities, but there’s still a large gap between what’s needed and what they’re doing.


In a survey of 812 cities released by nonprofit CDP on Wednesday, almost all said they’re aware they face hazards such as extreme heat, flooding and rainstorms that put their people and infrastructure at risk. Less than half have a detailed plan to tackle the problem.


“There’s an improvement in cities’ climate plans, but there’s definitely still a gap,” said Mirjam Wolfrum, director of policy engagement at CDP Europe. “Much more, and at a faster pace is needed.”


Cities are essential in the fight against global warming because they’re responsible for about three-quarters of greenhouse gas emissions globally and consume about two-thirds of the world’s energy supplies. Climate scientists say emissions need to be halved by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050 to keep warming at or close to the threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.


Only 17% of cities are implementing actions across the four areas CDP says have the highest impact when it comes to slashing emissions—building, transport, electricity grids and waste management. There’s a gap in project financing too. About half the cities surveyed identified more than 1,000 climate projects they could undertake, requiring $42 billion in additional investment in total, according to the report.


“The main barriers are the complex environments cities operate under, with very diverse local contexts, as well as budgetary issues,” Wolfrum said. “Cities are usually tackling one of the areas and falling back on others.”


Climate disclosure is the first step to help cities understand their climate risks. After that they should develop a plan with short- and long-term targets, and a mechanism for regularly reporting progress.  In CDP’s survey, 365 respondents had city-wide emissions reduction plans in 2020 —up from just 16 a decade ago—but only 148 were aligned with science-based targets.


The number of cities preparing risk assessments has increased more than 10-fold to 478 over the past decade. But 43% of cities representing a projected population of over 400 million people by 2030 still don’t have climate adaptation plans. The main vulnerabilities reported were rainstorms, heatwaves and drought.


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