Thirteen cities may exceed 2°C rise

Thomson Reuters Foundation, EDMONTON, Alberta

Thu, Mar 08, 2018 - Page 6

Thirteen cities worldwide are projected to see temperature increases that could exceed 2°C over the next decade or so, a new report says.

The Belgian city of Leuven faces the highest potential increase among 100 cities that are included in a report several years in the making by the Urban Climate Change Research Network, based at Columbia University.

“It’s all alarming,” William Solecki, one of the study’s editors, said on Tuesday at a UN-backed climate summit.

Cities that could see the steepest temperature increases during the 2020s include Geneva, Switzerland (2.5°C); Shenzhen, China (2.3°C); and Tsukuba, Japan (2.3°C), the study showed.

All the predictions included a lower limit as well.

For instance, temperatures in Leuven could increase by as little as 1.1°C.

The new data provides “foundation knowledge” for cities at the forefront of efforts to rein in the effects of global warming, said Cynthia Rosenzweig, an editor of the report and a researcher with NASA.

The new findings come on the heels of a UN draft report already causing alarm with projections that the global temperature rise is on track to exceed a 1.5°C target included in the Paris pact to curb climate change.

In addition, experts say that storms, floods and other extreme weather events that are related to climate change are hitting cities much harder than scientists had forecast.

“How will the cities know how they should develop their resilience plans unless they know what temperature projections, how the climate is supposed to change in their cities?” Rosenzweig said at a news conference.

The findings’ variance — projected increases do not exceed 1°C in a handful of cases — offer a reminder that cities need to develop tailored plans to mitigate the effects of climate change, said Solecki, a professor at Hunter College in New York City.

Planning is particularly crucial given the growing pressures from urbanization, he said.

About half the world’s population lives in urban areas and that figure is expected to reach 66 percent by 2050, according to the UN.

The new report was launched in the western Canadian city of Edmonton, Alberta, on the sidelines of a global summit where scientists and city planners are charting a road map for cities to fight the impact of climate change.