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Cities urged to step up against climate change

Conferences

Researchers, policymakers and other city stakeholders need to strengthen partnerships and produce knowledge together, while scientists should become more engaged with policy and practice networks, 11 scientists including Hungarian Diána Ürge-Vorsatz recommend in a recent edition of Nature magazine.

Ürge-Vorsatz is one of 750 leaders, innovators and influential figures from the scientific and urban practitioner communities currently participating at the Cities and Climate Change Science Conference, co-sponsored by the Cities IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), in Edmonton, Canada. She is one of the three co-chairs of the conference, running March 5-7, which will promote a research agenda to support effective climate action strategies in cities around the world.

Cities are increasingly feeling the effects of extreme weather. Last year more than 1,000 people died and 45 million people lost homes, livelihoods and services when severe floods hit southeast Asian cities, including Dhaka in Bangladesh and Mumbai in India. By 2030, millions of people and USD 4 trillion of assets will be at risk from such events, an international group of 11 scientists argues in a February article in the journal Nature.

The group, including Hungarian researcher and CEU professor Ürge-Vorsatz, says that cities must address climate change. More than half of the world’s population is urban, and cities emit 75% of all carbon dioxide from energy use.

Meeting the target of the 2015 Paris climate agreement to keep warming well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels requires staying within a "carbon budget" and emitting no more than around 800 gigatonnes of CO2 in total after 2017. Yet bringing the rest of the world up to the same infrastructure level as developed countries by 2050 could take up to 350 gigatonnes of the remaining global carbon budget. Much of this growth will be in cities in the developing world, the authors note.

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