A global economic assessment of city policies to reduce climate change impacts

Abstract

Climate change impacts can be especially large in cities1,2. Several large cities are taking climate change into account in long-term strategies3,4, for which it is important to have information on the costs and benefits of adaptation5. Studies on climate change impacts in cities mostly focus on a limited set of countries and risks, for example sea-level rise, health and water resources6. Most of these studies are qualitative, except for the costs of sea-level rise in cities7,8. These impact estimates do not take into account that large cities will experience additional warming due to the urban heat island effect9,10, that is, the change of local climate patterns caused by urbanization. Here we provide a quantitative assessment of the economic costs of the joint impacts of local and global climate change for all main cities around the world. Cost–benefit analyses are presented of urban heat island mitigation options, including green and cool roofs and cool pavements. It is shown that local actions can be a climate risk-reduction instrument. Furthermore, limiting the urban heat island through city adaptation plans can significantly amplify the benefits of international mitigation efforts.

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Figure 1: Estimates of the UHI effect on the annual mean temperature for the 1,692 largest cities in the world for the period 1950–2015.
Figure 2: Cumulative density functions of temperature changes of the 1,692 most populated cities in the world.

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Acknowledgements

W.J.W.B. acknowledges funding from the EU project NATURVATION. The authors acknowledge the technical assistance of B. Martínez-López in processing the MAGICC/SCENGEN output.

Author information

F.E., W.J.W.B. and R.S.J.T. designed the study, analysed the data and wrote the paper. These authors contributed equally to the study. All authors discussed the results and commented on the manuscript.

Correspondence to Francisco Estrada.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Estrada, F., Botzen, W. & Tol, R. A global economic assessment of city policies to reduce climate change impacts. Nature Clim Change 7, 403–406 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1038/nclimate3301

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