Cities need more support to prepare for climate breakdown risks

According to the European Environment Agency’s (EEA) first-ever European Climate Risk Assessment, Europe is getting hotter twice as fast as the rest of the world. The region must adapt to a climate that could become 3°C warmer, yet it remains inadequately prepared.

The assessment warns that disasters like extreme heat, drought, wildfires and flooding will worsen and intensify due to the rapidly changing climate. These events threaten people’s health and safety, as well as nations’ energy and food security, ecosystems, infrastructure, water resources, and financial stability.

In response to the report, the European Commission has outlined essential steps to manage climate risks and boost European resilience, encouraging Member States to factor in these risks when revising their national energy and climate plans, which are due in June.

C40 echoes this and urges the upcoming EU political mandate and Member States to:

  1. Elevate EU policies beyond the 2021 Adaptation Strategy to seamlessly integrate adaptation across all levels of governance and policies.
  2. Accelerate access to funds for community-led initiatives and local authorities to enhance climate adaptation efforts.
  3. Prioritise the development of a comprehensive EU water resilience strategy, like ReWaterEU, to safeguard Europe’s future amidst escalating climate threats.

Aligning with the EEA’s policy recommendations, C40 cities are already implementing targeted solutions that address adaptation and boost resilience, while protecting vulnerable residents and helping create thriving communities:

Paris is working to improve the quality of daily food consumption and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. Through its 2022-2027 Sustainable Food Plan, the city has defined a path for preserving the climate and biodiversity and for tasty, healthy food consumption.

Athens is adapting to extreme heat by implementing nature-based solutions, boosting land acquisition for green space creation while educating residents through the Cool Athens campaign.

Barcelona has established a Biodiversity Observatory to monitor and safeguard the city’s diverse ecosystems. The city also has a network of climate shelters available to all residents, offering relief from heat during heatwaves.

Lisbon, Milan, Oslo and Rotterdam are establishing early warning systems in all low-income areas where communities face a high risk of flooding and drought. Copenhagen is developing emergency responses to protect all people during critical events, such as ensuring safe and accessible shelter and providing basic needs.

During COP28, several EU Member States joined the Coalition for High Ambition Multi-Level Partnerships (CHAMP), pledging to cooperate with local governments in developing climate strategies. The EEA’s assessment affirms the critical need for national leaders to work with cities to scale their adaptation efforts.

Júlia López Ventura, Regional Director for Europe at C40 Cities, said: “Confronting challenges like extreme weather, threats to public health, food, water and energy security, and financial instability is a shared responsibility of the EU, its Member States, and regional and local authorities. Many of Europe’s mayors are already taking action to protect ecosystems and restore urban nature, secure their cities’ food systems and water supplies, and protect the most vulnerable people from the worst impacts of the climate crisis. But it is not enough for cities to act alone.

“Through multi-level partnerships, national leaders, businesses, and civil society must urgently collaborate with cities and their leaders to protect millions from these climate-induced hazards.”

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