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Impacts of Global Changes in Cities

By: , Posted on: April 17, 2017

While already just over 50% of the world population lives in cities, it is expected that practically all population growth up to 2050 will be in cities, amounting to 3 billion extra urbanites, that is, approximately 6.5 billion in total (Revi et al., 2014). Cities are particularly vulnerable to climate change, because of the concentration of population, goods, capital stock, and infrastructures. For example, heat waves, enhanced locally by the so-called “urban heat island” (UHI) are particularly deadly in cities (Wong et al., 2013). Urban heat island (UHI) is a poetical term describing an urban local climate feature: cities can be warmer than the surrounding countryside, especially at night. Sometimes by up to 10°C for major cities. Intense precipitation creates floods with dire consequences because of the impermeability of the urban surfaces. Air quality conditions in cities are recurrently and often even continuously exceeding health limits. Furthermore, cities are a main emitter of greenhouse gases (GHGs), as the high concentration of human activities, like transport and industry, entails high levels of energy consumption.

Therefore, city actors, especially planners, are facing numerous and sizeable climate change related challenges, while having to manage and plan their city development in a sustainable and climate ready way. The reduction of emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other GHGs is an issue that is relatively well appropriated by the urban actors. This is due to both the fact that this was already first raised long ago, with the Rio protocol in 1992, and is linked to the reduction of the energy consumption…

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