Thursday, July 10, 2014

Cities and businesses prepare for the threat climate change poses to water

Larissa Bulla at the Water Hub in the Guardain (UK): Cities are home to half the world's population and produce a staggering 80% of global GDP. As more of us continue to migrate to cities, these numbers are widely expected to grow. According to the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), urban climate change risks are increasing too.

We are already witnessing the consequences of this. Last winter's historic flooding in England wreaked havoc on homes and businesses, costing small businesses alone some £830m and counting. Now, the UK Committee on Climate Change has issued fresh warnings that not planning for climate change will result in significant costs for the UK government. However, it also showed that investing in resilience pays: for every £1 spent on flood defence, £8 is saved.

City governments too are aware of the potential financial impacts of climate change. Protecting our Capital (pdf) is a new report that illustrates city governments are protecting their economies, businesses and communities. The analysis, based on environmental risk information provided by the world's leading cities and from companies within them, shows that where cities have identified risks recognised by businesses, they are taking adaptation and mitigation actions to combat them.

Water features heavily as one of the primary physical threats disclosed to CDP by both companies and cities. This includes risks such as storms, flooding, sea level rise and frequent and intense rainfall. Copenhagen, for example, describes flooding as an "instantaneous" event that negatively impacts business operations due to road closures and damage to buildings.

And while the impacts of sea level rises can be immediate, notes Abidjan in the Ivory Coast, they have "lasting impacts" on tourism and supply chains. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) states that more than $3tn in assets is at risk from climate change in port cities, which are vital gateways for the exchange of goods and services....

2011 flood waters in Queensland, Australia, shot by Elspeth and Evan, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr,  under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

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