IPCC report release
The report has a strong focus on cities, with a chapter on cities and infrastructure and an additional paper dedicated to coastal cities.
Why are cities so important to understand climate change impacts and adaptation actions?
The report explains that climate change impacts are magnified in cities. For example, urbanization processes such as urban heat island and air pollution exacerbate extreme temperatures. Inequality and marginalization are two key drivers of vulnerability in urban areas.
People living in informal settlements in rapidly growing urban areas will be most vulnerable. Often located in hazard-prone areas, informal settlement dwellers face precarious housing conditions and may lack essential services and mobility.
The report documents multiple community-led adaptation initiatives in informal settlements. Examples of adaptation action in informal settlements from countries such as Tanzania, Uganda, or Mozambique demonstrate how dwellers’ knowledge and experiences improve the delivery of urban adaptation.
For example, the programme Transform Freetown, led by the Office of the Mayor in Freetown, Sierra Leone, incorporates community-generated data on climate and health risks and recognises community action plans.
As Mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr puts it: "Our city belongs to all of us and we all have a role to play in making it the best it can be."
The IPCC report makes special emphasis on opportunities for adaptation. The consensus is that adaptation action has increased since the report in 2014, but progress is uneven and not fast enough.
There is evidence of cities integrating adaptation into planning and policies. The report documents various instruments to facilitate adaptation ranging from voluntary standards and audits, incentives, impact assessment tools or audits and details a range of financial instruments that can support adaptation.
However, the report also identifies a policy action gap in local adaptation action. Key concerns emerging in the adaptation literature are the need to prioritise the needs of the most vulnerable, the development of intersectional perspectives on urban inequality, and the need to mobilise multiple types of knowledge to respond to adaptation.
For example, in Puerto Rico, thousands of non-profit and grassroots organizations that mobilized to facilitate disaster recovery after Hurricane Maria in 2017 are now catalysing social transformations, including the development of community-based micro-grids.
If you want to know more about the ordinary actions taken by citizens to improve everyday life whilst tackling climate change, check our project LO-ACT.
And if you want to know more about community energy, look into the project CESET.
This is part of our Climate Urbanism theme.
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