It is well known that cities are engines of growth at both local and national levels. However, it is still less known how urban development and climate change interact. Cities are increasingly vocal advocates of climate action. In high and middle-income regions, cities account for the bulk of co2 emissions, and their actions are not enough toward net zero. Also, in lower-income regions, cities are not acting fast to control their emissions trajectories.
A city’s characteristics depend on its typology, level of development, and population size, which vary across regions. On a per capita basis, cities in high and upper-middle-income regions have the highest co2 emissions, whereas low-income regions have the least. However, the cities in low and lower-middle-income regions will face the highest overall climate change hazard exposure.
Image: Key hazards that cities are exposed to are:
Resilience & Inclusion
Notwithstanding that, cities in low and lower-middle-income regions experience more severe estimated negative effects of climate anomalies than cities in the high and middle-income regions due to a greater level of resilience in the latter part. This relative lack of resilience can be explained by their city’s lack of access to basic services such as healthcare, education, water, electricity, and other utilities and higher poverty rates.
Social inclusion for all who reside in the city provides opportunities and the ability to participate in markets, services, and spaces thereby enabling them to live a good standard of life. Thus, within income classes, larger cities tend to provide better access to services and, thus, a sense of inclusion among its citizens.
Construction in countries has increasingly gravitated toward cities projected to become unbearably hot due to climate change. Intensifying the climate change-related hazards in cities, the construction activity causes more deterioration. These suggest a spatial misallocation of investments with negative potential impacts on future health, safety, and welfare.
The compactness of the city’s development has a strong negative correlation with its level of both PM2.5 & CO2 emissions. A city’s average PM 2.5 concentration also tends to increase first and then decrease with its level of development. The level of development in which the city is located, city level PM 2.5 concentration is higher in low and lower-middle-income regions than in high and middle-income regions.
Compactness allows cities to develop vertically, as well as through infill development. A city’s vertical development leads it to consume less land overall than it would otherwise. The demand for land that comes with the growth of the urban population can place development pressure on green spaces in the city. The greenery in cities- that is, the trees and other vegetation in parks comes with important benefits for its residents. Its presence also plays an essential role in mitigating and controlling urban heat island effects and heat wave phenomena.
Cities will bear a disproportionate amount of the effects of climate change, and city leaders are likely the most proactive climate change activists. Multidimensional participation in climate action is also necessary from nonstate players like multilateral institutions, huge multinational firms, and city and national governments.
At the local level, the government has the ability to shape and carry out climate policies established by higher echelons of government. They can create and carry out city-specific policies and initiatives and, most importantly, assist in coordinating collective climate action in their communities.
This article is based on the report: Thriving : Making Cities Green, Resilient, and Inclusive in a Changing Climate (worldbank.org)
Image Courtesy: Daily Hive Toronto: Latest Stories in Toronto ON