Four in five cities facing ‘significant’ climate risks this year, CDP reveals

Athens (pictured) is one of the cities named in the report, due to this summer's wildfires nearby

The international non-profit has today (13 October) published its latest analysis of the climate risks facing the cities which disclose through its platform, as well as information on how these cities are planning to boost adaptation and increase resilience. Responses from 998 cities are included in the report. Urban sustainability network ICLEI also contributed to the report.

Four in five of the cities disclosing through CDP said they had seen climate risks crystallising this year or are confident that this will happen before the year is out. The report reflects on this summer’s drought in geographies including China, Italy, Spain and Portugal; floods in cities including Seoul and Karachi and wildfires near Athens.

Overall, 46% of the cities experienced extreme heat this summer, 35% declared drought and 33% experienced urban flooding.

One-quarter of the cities expect physical climate impacts to become more intense and frequent in the near-term (through to 2025). By 2025, these cities expect such events to impact 70% or more of their population. The cities expect increasing pressure on water systems and agriculture systems.

“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,” said CDP’s interim global director for cities, states and regions, Maia Kutner.

“As home to more than half the world’s population, cities find themselves sitting on the front line of climate change. They often lead the way on climate action, reporting data, setting science-based targets and making bold mitigation and adaptation plans.”

From risk to resilience

To Kutner’s latter point, the report charts progress in the development of adaptation plans by cities – and in ensuring that these plans are sufficient and what CDP calls ‘people-centred’. People-centred plans are designed to contribute to social sustainability as well as climate resilience, providing benefits – rather than burdens – for urban populations. They involve people from all demographics from the outset of their development.

Almost two-thirds (63%) of the cities reporting to CDP are taking a people-centred approach to delivering their climate plans. Of these cities, the vast majority (85%) identified social benefits and economic benefits (84%). On the economic side, CDP reveals in the report that cities taking a people-centred climate approach are five times more likely to see job creation.

CDP’s Kutner added: “Putting people at the heart of climate action, from planning to implementation, improves lives. 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.”

With many nations hurtling towards a post-Covid-19 recession amid the energy price crisis, the onus is on Governments to deliver climate plans which maximise social and economic benefits.

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