Scorching temperatures, rising sea levels, flooding and droughts are facing over half of the world’s population that live in cities.
But many cities don’t have plans in place to protect populations from climate devastation, says a new report.
The report’s authors, the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), found 43 percent of the 819 cities they collected data from had no adaptation plans to keep people and critical infrastructure safe.
This is despite 93 percent of city authorities disclosing to the CDP that they knew they were at risk from climate change.
A quarter of these cities said that “budgetary restraints” were stopping better plans from being made.
Extreme weather events will leave cities’ populations dangerously at risk.
Only 110 cities have been implementing crisis management systems. And just 143 cities are implementing flood mapping.
Failure to implement defences and plans will mean the population of cities will suffer.
We have already seen the “unprecedented” floods in Jakarta, Indonesia, in 2020.
These floods displaced thousands and killed more than 60 people.
The city had not built adequate adaptations to deal with persistent flooding and had prioritised development by private firms over people.
It is also clear many cities are failing to make substantial steps towards a transition to renewable energy sources.
Only 23 percent of cities have a renewable energy target. A tiny 9 percent report their target is to have 70 percent of their energy produced from renewable sources.
Although a worrying number of cities are falling dangerously short, the report said there has been some improvement in recent years.
It found that 87 percent of cities are making sustainability master plans and also notes that over 1,000 cities have declared a climate emergency.
The move by cities to put forward climate plans, even marginally, can in part be attributed to the movement on the streets led by the youth strikes and Extinction Rebellion.
But as the report makes clear, more must be done.
Global warming is already making vast sections of rural land uninhabitable due to persistent flooding, harsh weather and crop failure.
This is forcing millions to migrate to towns and cities.
Rapid urbanisation is likely to result in rising levels of poverty. A 2017 UN report predicted that 40 percent of urban expansion may be into slums.
The poorest will be disproportionately hit from the impact of the climate crisis.
The report noted the elderly and the poorest are the two groups who are the most vulnerable to climate change in cities.
It said people with low income are at immediate risk of climate threats in 286 cities across the globe.
There is also a revealing section that found public health is one of the aspects of city infrastructure that is most at risk from climate change.
This could have devastating consequences as pandemics such as Covid-19 are likely to become more frequent and deadly.
The report calls on world leaders to pledge at COP26 in November to increase budgets for cities to spend on climate plans.
While more effective adaptations in cities to defend against climate destruction should be fought for, it is important to push for more than this report suggests.
Adaptation will never be the answer.
Accelerating climate change will breach any defences.
We must tackle the roots of the climate crisis.
To safeguard our continued existence on this planet, we must wrestle control of society out of the hands of those who exploit the planet, and fight to put people before profit.