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Cities investing in anti-climate change measures, says report

Words: Sam Waddicor

Research revels that most cities worldwide see climate change as a risk to local businesses – but also see the financial benefits to solving the problems posed.

The report, called Protecting our Capital, was put together by climate leadership group CDP - a network of cities called C40 and engineering design firm AECOM - following analysis of climate change strategies implemented by cities round the world.

The report says that about $4 trillion could be at risk because of climate change, but there is an emphasis to protect cities as they generate more than 80 per cent of global GDP. Of the 207 cities that responded there were three UK cities - London, Manchester and Glasgow. Only London is a member of C40.

The report also identified how climate change was likely to affect most cities. Heatwaves and temperature increases are predicted to affect 86 per cent of cites worldwide, followed by frequent or intense rainfall (68 per cent), drought (41 per cent), rising sea levels (30 per cent) and storms/floods (29 per cent) rounding out the top five.

Another key finding of the report was that business and cities were in agreement over the possible threat that climate change poses. This meant that as cities were bringing in new initiatives they were helping businesses to become more resilient to climate change and therefore they were helping each other.

Examples of the 757 respondent climate adaptation activities protecting against climate change include Singapore’s setting of a minimum height requirement for reclaimed land to protect against the threat of rising sea levels.

London was selected for its planning policy requiring new developments to adhere to an energy hierarchy in an effort to reduce their exposure and contribution to rising temperatures. The Greater London Assembly (GLA) invests $188,000 each year to provide developers with consultancy support for implementing energy policies.

Substantial benefits

As well as drawing attention to cities that are helping to reduce climate change effects, the report also highlights the work that businesses are doing. For example, Sabesp, the largest water company in Brazil (part-owned by the state), partnered with the city of São Paulo to deliver Programa Vida Nova. The programme invested $600 million to provide sewage networks to 43 slums and poor developments in the city.

Gary Lawrence, chief sustainability officer for AECOM, said: "Three-quarters of the cities that have taken part in CDP’s cities programme this year identified substantial benefits that flow to both public and private economies from climate adaptation initiatives. These benefits can be amplified through closer collaborations and sharing of knowledge and technical resources."

Kerem Yilmaz, C40 head of research, added: "The need to understand and act upon climate risk is a growing priority. That’s why these cities are taking steps right now to help create more climate-resilient communities, economies and infrastructure. Their commitment to measuring and reporting on this critical issue is accelerating action by enabling cities to identify common challenges and work together to spur and implement solutions."