Urban populations in poverty at risk to extreme heat. Data Source: Cities within countries for which the World Bank has developed national urban poverty ratios are shown (if they are at risk to extreme heat). Cities with a three-consecutive-month period where  average  maximum  temperatures  exceed  35°C  (95°F)  in  the  baseline  period  (top)  are  compared  to  those  that  are  projected  to experience  these  temperature  extremes  by  the  2050s  (bottom). Graphic: UCCRN

CAPE TOWN, South Africa, 19 June 2018 (Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy) – Billions of people in thousands of cities around the world will be at risk from climate-related heatwaves, drought, flooding, food  shortages,  blackouts  and  social  inequality by  mid-century without  bold  and urgent  action  to  reduce  greenhouse  gas  emissions.

Fortunately,  cities  around  the world  are  delivering  bold  climate  solutions  to  avert  these  outcomes  and create a healthier, safer, more equal and prosperous future for all urban citizens.

New research from C40 Cities, Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy, the Urban  Climate  Change  Research  Network  (UCCRN)  and  Acclimatise  predicts how many  urban  residents  will  face  potentially  devastating  heat  waves,  flooding  and droughts by 2050 if global  warming continues on its current trajectory. The  Future We Don’t Want - How climate change could impact the world’s greatest cities [pdf] also looks  at  indirect  climate  impacts  and  estimates  how climate  change  under  a ‘business-as-usual scenario’ will  impact  urban  food  security  and  energy  systems  as well as the urban poor, who are most vulnerable to climate change.

Headline findings include that, by 2050 1.6  billion  people living  in  over  970  cities,  will  be regularly  exposed  to extreme high temperatures.

  • Over  800  million  people, living in 570 cities, will be vulnerable  to  sea level rise and coastal flooding.
  • 650 million people, in over 500 cities, will be at risk of water shortages due to climate change.
  • 2.5  billion  people will  be  living  in  over  1,600  cities  where national food supply is threatened by climate change.
  • The   power   supply to 470   million   people,   in   over   230   cities,   will   be vulnerable to sea level rise.
  • 215 million poor urban residents, living in slum areas in over 490 cities, will face increasing climate risks.

The Future We Don’t Want - How  climate  change  could impact the world’s greatest cities also contains concrete examples of bold climate solutions that cities are  delivering,  which,  if  adopted  at-scale,  could help  prevent  the  worst impacts of climate change.

The research was launched at the Adaptation Futures conference in Cape  Town,  where  representatives  of  cities  around  the  world  are  sharing  ideas  on how to prepare and adapt their cities for the effects of climate change.

“For  decades, scientists  have  been warning of  the  risks  that  climate  change will pose from increasing global temperatures, rising sea levels, growing inequality and water,  food,  and  energy  shortages.  Now  we  have  the  clearest  possible  evidence  of just what these impacts will mean for the citizens of the world’s cities, said Mark Watts, Executive  Director  C40  Cities. “This  is  the  future  that  nobody  wants.  Our research should  serve  as  a  wake-up  call  on  just  how  urgently  we  need  to  be delivering bold climate action.”

“For most C40 cities, the impacts of climate change are not a far off threat.  From Cape  Town  to  Houston,  Mayors  are  seeing  severe  droughts,  storms,  fires,  and more,”  said Antha  Williams,  Head  of  Environmental  Programs  at  Bloomberg Philanthropies  and  C40  Board  Member, “As this report shows, C40 mayors are on the front line of climate change, and the actions they take today — to use less energy in buildings, transition to clean transportation and  reduce waste — are necessary to ensure prosperity and safety for their citizens.”

“Climate change is already happening and the world’s great  cities  are  feeling  the impact. Cape Town is facing an unprecedented drought, but thanks to the efforts of our citizens to adapt, we have averted Day Zero, when we would have had to switch off most taps,” said Patricia  de  Lille,  Executive  Mayor  of  Cape  Town  and Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy Board Member. “The lessons from Cape Town, and from this important new research is that every city must invest today in the  infrastructure  and  policies  that  will  protect  citizens  from  the  future  effects  of our changing global climate.”

Many  of  the  solutions  being  delivered  by  cities,  as  well  as  regional  governments, investors  and  businesses to  prevent the  worst  impacts  of  climate  change, will  be showcased  at  the Global  Climate  Action  Summit,  taking  place  in  San  Francisco, September 12-14th, 2018.

City climate solutions featured in the report include:

  • Extreme  heat: Seoul has planted 16 million trees and expanded its green space by 3.5  million  m2. The  city  has  also  set  up shaded  cooling  centres  for  those  unable  to access air conditioning.
  • Flooding: New  York  City  is  improving  coastal  flood  mapping,  strengthening  coastal defences and building smaller, strategically placed local storm surge barriers around the city.
  • Drought:  São  Paulo  has  set  up  reward  schemes  to  incentivise  citizens  to  use  less water, whilst investing in the city’s pipeline system to reduce water leakage.
  • Urban food security: Paris plans to establish 33 hectares of urban agriculture within the city’s boundaries by 2020. By 2050, 25 percent of the city’s food supply will be produced in the Île-de-France region.
  • Energy   Supply:   London   is   improving   drainage   infrastructure   to   ensure   key infrastructure  can  withstand  heavy  flooding,  whilst also  encouraging  decentralised energy supply to reduce the risk of blackouts if any one power source is damaged.
  • Extreme  heat  &  poverty: Lima’s Barrio Mío programme created a poverty map of the city helping policy makers to focus resources on the most vulnerable and under-served areas where people are most exposed to heat risks.

The Future We Don’t Want: Billions of urban citizens at risk of climate-related heat waves, drought, flooding, food shortages and blackouts by 2050

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