According to a report by the European Environment Agency (EEA), distinct design and composition of urban areas compared to rural areas alters climate change impacts in cities, leading to many diverse challenges for cities within Europe.
In Europe, temperature is increasing, precipitation is changing and sea level is rising. However, the effects will not be uniform across the continent, according to the report, which is the first Europe-wide assessment of urban vulnerability to climate change.
Europe should seize the opportunity of improving quality of life while adapting to climate change in cities; EEA warns that delaying adaptation will be much more costly in the long-term.
“Many cities are now facing impacts such as water scarcity, flooding and heatwaves” says EEA Executive Director Jacqueline McGlade . “Cities need to start investing in adaptation measures using ideas and best practice from around the world. The longer political leaders wait, the more expensive adaptation will become and the danger to citizens and the economy will increase.”
According to the report, roughly one fifth of European cities with over 100 000 inhabitants are very vulnerable to river floods, and more than half of Europe’s cities have a low share of vegetated areas, which can strongly exacerbate heatwaves.
The report stresses that urban adaptation is therefore not only a local task but requires concerted action at all policy levels. It draws attention to the important role of European and national policy in helping cities adapt to climate change by providing a supportive framework.
Such a framework includes a coherent and ‘climate-proof’ policy, a stronger territorial approach targeted at the specific challenges in different regions, a capable set of institutions and access to funding. Last but not least it calls for more knowledge to support a multi-level approach to urban adaptation.