Friday, May 18, 2012

A report warns that delaying adaptation to climate change will be much more costly to European cities The report published by the European Environment Agency (EEA) recommends to seize the opportunity of improving quality of life while adapting to climate change in cities. It also advices to cities to start investing in adaptation measures using ideas and best practice from around the world.

The European Environment Agency (EEA) published a report which is the first Europe-wide assessment of urban vulnerability to climate change. Among the findings reported, it argues that the distinct design and composition of urban areas compared to rural areas alters climate change impacts in cities, leading to many diverse challenges for cities within Europe. For example, a lot of artificial surfaces and little vegetation exacerbates heatwaves in cities. This so-called 'urban heat island' effect leads to much higher temperatures in cities than in the surrounding area. Already in 2010, the Committee of the Regions called for more implication of the regions and cities against climate change.

In addition to this, the report also unveils that roughly one fifth of European cities with over 100.000 inhabitants are very vulnerable to river floods. More than half of Europe’s cities have a low share of vegetated areas, which can strongly exacerbate heatwaves. The report highlights that this is particularly relevant in cities where there is a high proportion of vulnerable people, such as the large proportion of elderly citizens in Italian, German and Northern Spanish cities.

The 'Urban adaptation to climate change in Europe' report concludes that cities need to start investing in adaptation measures, and it also warns that the longer political leaders wait, the more expensive adaptation will become and the danger to citizens and the economy will increase. Moreover, the report stresses that urban adaptation is therefore not only a local task but requires concerted action at all policy levels. The report draws attention to the important role of European and national policy in helping cities adapt to climate change by providing a supportive framework....

High water in Koblenz, during 2011 floods on the Rhine, shot by Holger Weinandt, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Germany license

No comments: