While many cities are working to implement measures and make investments to fight climate change and mitigate its worst effects, there is a gap between what is needed and what is being done, a new study shows.
What is Happening?
- In a survey of 812 cities conducted by nonprofit CDP, almost all say that they are aware they face hazards such as extreme heat, flooding and rainstorms but less than half have a detailed plan to tackle this problem.
- Cities are responsible for around three-quarters of greenhouse gas emissions around the world and consume about two-thirds of the world’s energy supplies, making their participation in the fight against climate change vital. Climate scientists say that emissions need to be halved by 2030 and reach net-zero by 2050 to keep warming close to 1.5 degrees celsius by 2100.
- The survey found that only 17% of cities are implementing actions and making climate investments across the four areas that CDP says have the highest impact when it comes to reducing emissions. These four areas are building, transport, electricity grids and waste management. A reason for this could be lack of project financing. About half of the cities identified more than 1 000 climate projects they could undertake, requiring USD$42 billion in additional investment in total.
- The number of cities preparing risk assessments has increased more than 10-fold to 478 over the past decade. However, 43% of cities representing a projected population of over 400 million people by 2030 still don’t have climate adaptation plans.
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Mirjam Wolfrum, director of policy engagement at CDP Europe, says, “There’s an improvement in cities’ climate plans, but there’s definitely still a gap. Much more, and at a faster pace is needed.”
How Can Cities Improve?
Wolfrum says, “The main barriers are the complex environments cities operate under, with very diverse local contexts, as well as budgetary issues. Cities are usually tackling one of the areas and falling back on others.”
- Cities should first assess their climate vulnerabilities to understand their risk. Then they should develop a plan with short- and long-term targets, as well as a mechanism for regularly reporting progress.
- 365 respondents in the survey had city-wide emissions reduction plans in 2020- up from 16 a decade ago- but only 148 were aligned with science-based targets.