The Citizen (Gauteng)

Cities not prepared for disasters


Paris – Hundreds of cities have no climate adaptation plans in place despite rising threats like floods, heatwaves and pollution, according to a report yesterday that said this could put 400 million people at risk across the world.

Fast-expanding urban areas are home to more than half the population of the planet and are increasing­ly exposed to climate-fuelled disasters, economic shocks and health crises as the world warms, with fears that vulnerable communitie­s will be hardest hit.

CDP – a global non-profit that collects data disclosed by companies, cities, states and regions on environmen­tal impact – analysed more than 800 global cities and found that 43% do not yet have a plan to adapt to the challenges of climate change.

With more and more people drawn to live in urban areas, CDP estimated that by 2030, about 400 million people will be living in poorly prepared cities.

“The urgent need to act and have adaptation measures in place to keep the citizens safe, is increasing together with the growing urban population,” said Mirjam Wolfrum, CDP’s policy director for Europe.

She said that 93% of the cities included in the report were facing “significan­t threats”, while 60% highlighte­d “substantiv­e” water security issues.

The top five hazards are flash and surface flooding – including from rising sea levels – heat waves, rainstorms, extreme hot days and droughts, she said, adding that air pollution is also a major health concern.

Ongoing adaptation strategies in the municipali­ties that reported to CDP include tree planting (20%), flood mapping (18%) and developing crisis management plans like evacuation systems (14%).

With cities responsibl­e for about 70% of global emissions, the report said urban centres are also looking at schemes like increasing the use of renewable energy and improving green spaces, transport infrastruc­ture and recycling.

Under the 2015 Paris climate deal, countries agreed to limit global heating to 20C, with a less damaging target of 1.50C.

The years since have been among the hottest on record, while severe storms, floods and wildfires have affected communitie­s across the planet.

But in some cases cities are also moving faster and setting more ambitious climate targets than national government­s, according to CDP.

The urgent need to act to keep citizens safe, is increasing together with the growing urban population.

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