Letter

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

Received:
Accepted:
Published online:

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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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

Affiliations

  1. Centro de Ciencias de la Atmósfera, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico City 04510, Mexico

    • Francisco Estrada
  2. Institute for Environmental Studies, VU University, Amsterdam 1081 HV, The Netherlands

    • Francisco Estrada
    • , W. J. Wouter Botzen
    •  & Richard S. J. Tol
  3. Utrecht University School of Economics (U.S.E.), Utrecht University, Utrecht 3508 TC, The Netherlands

    • W. J. Wouter Botzen
  4. Department of Economics, University of Sussex, Falmer BN1 9SL, UK

    • Richard S. J. Tol
  5. Department of Spatial Economics, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam 1081HV, The Netherlands

    • Richard S. J. Tol
  6. Tinbergen Institute, Amsterdam 1082 MS, The Netherlands

    • Richard S. J. Tol
  7. CESifo, Munich 81679, Germany

    • Richard S. J. Tol

Authors

  1. Search for Francisco Estrada in:

  2. Search for W. J. Wouter Botzen in:

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Contributions

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.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Francisco Estrada.

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