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Study: Four out of five cities faced 'significant climate hazards' this year

A new CDP report reveals widespread concern over escalating urban climate impacts.

A sunset haze over Bangkok, Thailand.

A sunset haze over Bangkok, Thailand.

Four out of five cities faced "significant" climate hazards this year, while a quarter expect to face "high-risk" climate hazards that are more intense and frequent by 2025.

That is the stark conclusion of a new report this week from investor-backed climate disclosure group CDP, which asked nearly a thousand cities worldwide to report on the climate risks they are facing and how they are responding to them.

It found that climate impacts are a growing cause for concern for city managers worldwide, with 46 percent reporting that they have faced extreme heat this year, 36 percent affected by heavy rainfall, 35 percent experiencing drought, and 33 percent faced urban flooding. For nearly a third of cities, these hazards threaten the vast majority, at least 70 percent, of their populations.

Moreover, close to two thirds of cities expect these hazards to be more intense in future while over half anticipate them being more frequent.

The report also highlights how these risks are unevenly distributed, with the elderly, low-income households, children and marginalized and minority communities most exposed to climate-related hazards.

"From the deadliest floods in Pakistan's history to the worst drought across the continent of Europe in five centuries, 2022 has been another devastating year for climate change events," said Maia Kutner, interim global director, cities, states and regions at CDP. "Every day, the world over, we hear routine phrases like 'unprecedented', 'worst ever' or 'first time in history' that do little to convey the staggering impact the globe's rising temperature has on the planet and its people. As home to more than half the world's population, cities find themselves sitting on the front line of climate change."

The report also highlights how the vast majority of cities are taking steps to bolster their climate resilience that are also unlocking a raft of co-benefits.

Putting people at the heart of climate action, from planning to implementation, improves lives.

For example, 85 percent of cities taking people-centered climate actions reported public health benefits, such as better air quality, physical and mental health, while the same proportion identified social benefits, including increased food and water security and better protection for vulnerable populations.

Moreover, cities taking people-centered climate action were five times more likely to realize job creation as a co-benefit of climate action, while three-quarters of such cities reported environmental benefits, such as more green space in the city or improved water and soil quality.

"Putting people at the heart of climate action, from planning to implementation, improves lives," said Kutner. "It unlocks social, economic and environmental benefits, enhances equity and inclusion, and ensures a just transition to a low-carbon economy. Cities that identify vulnerable groups, engage with them, and understand their needs to deliver just adaptation strategies see the clear benefits and create a sustainable future for people and the planet."

CDP is calling for cities to take a series of steps to advance climate action and enhance climate resilience, including setting science-based emissions targets, undertake climate risk and vulnerability assessments, and develop adaptation plans.

Bloomberg founder and the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy on Climate Ambition and Solutions, Michael Bloomberg, said: "This report underlines the major risks cities around the world face from climate change as well as the benefits of taking action — including cleaning the air, improving public health and expanding economic opportunity. The more cities know about those risks and benefits, and the more they engage citizens in the work they're doing to confront the climate crisis, the faster they can make progress."

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