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Cities Are Woefully Unprepared for the Havoc of Climate Change

Cities Are Woefully Unprepared for the Havoc of Climate Change

More than 40 percent have no adaptation plan

One in four cities around the world lack the money to protect themselves against the ravages of climate breakdown, even though more than 90 percent are facing serious risks, according to research.

Cities are facing problems with flooding, overheating, water shortages, and damage to their infrastructure from extreme weather, which is growing more frequent as the climate changes. A survey of 800 cities, carried out by the Carbon Disclosure Project, found that last year about 43 percent of them, representing a combined population of 400 million people, did not have a plan to adapt to the climate crisis.

Budgetary restraints were cited as the key reason by about 25 percent of cities. Many are reliant on national governments for the funding needed to protect their infrastructure and vulnerable populations from these threats.

The survey found that last year 422 cities had 1,142 projects to adapt to the climate crisis yet to be financed, requiring about $72 billion in investment. The cost of water management projects alone that were yet to be financed was estimated at $22.6 billion.

COVID-19 “opened many people’s eyes to the issue of resilience,” but “cities need funding to become more resilient places.”

Kyra Appleby, the global director of CDP, said: “Adaptation [to the impacts of climate change] is trickier to finance than emissions action. There are enormous benefits from adaptation and resilience, but they don’t appear on the balance sheet. Only a fraction of recovery spending [from the coronavirus pandemic] is being put towards climate change, and even less towards adaptation.”

Installing renewable energy generation, such as solar panels, can generate a financial return, and energy efficiency projects begin to save money quite quickly, but the benefits of adapting to the impacts of extreme weather are less obvious and often more diffuse.