London and Leicester are well equipped to deal with climate change, but other cities are falling behind
By Sophie Yeo
The capacity to cope with the impacts of climate change depends on your postcode, say scientists at Newcastle University.
Researchers have pulled together a league table of cities, based on how well they will be able to combat and adapt to climate change.
In the report, the cities were judged by what they are doing to reduce greenhouse emissions, as well as how effectively their infrastructure will be able to deal with extremes of weather such as flooding and drought.
The results were good news for London, which was found to have one of the most advanced strategies. Its intentions to mitigate the impact of climate change through increasing use of renewables, waste management and the introduction of greener modes of transport meant that it came in at the top of the list.
Leicester also scored highly, thanks to the rigorous monitoring and regular reports on the city’s carbon footprint.
“Of the 30 cities we assessed, all of them acknowledged that climate change was a threat and all except two had a strategy or policy in place to reduce emissions and also adapt to cope better with future weather patterns, in particular flooding,” explains Dr Oliver Heidrich, a senior researcher in the School of Civil Engineering and Geosciences at Newcastle University.
While almost all cities had targets for the reduction of CO2 emissions, many were not expressed in terms of an actual figure or timescale, which renders them meaningless.
The level of ambition in each city also wildly varied, with reduction targets ranging from 10% to 80%.
Edinburgh was one of the most committed in this sphere, with an emissions reduction target of 40% by 2020 and a zero carbon economy by 2050.
Actions not words
While many cities had plans to reduce their emissions and implement climate adaptation and mitigation schemes, they were often letting themselves down when it came to making these a reality.
Heidrich said, “A plan is only any good if you implement it and then assess it to see how effective it has been. This requires a long term investment in the strategies.
“We found that in many cities this wasn’t happening. In some cases, plans were in place but nothing had been done about them.
“The aim of this research is not to name and shame cities, but if we are to be prepared for the increased occurrences of floods and droughts then we do need to make sure that our climate change policies are in place, that they are working and that the consequences of implementing these strategies are being checked.”