New analysis has shown mixed results for the performance of European cities in their efforts to tackle the looming challenge of climate change.
A large research team, including universities in the UK, Netherlands, Italy, and France, collated data on climate plans from 885 cities within the European Union.
The study, which the academics called “the most comprehensive survey to date”, reflects the extent to which Europe has taken climate action seriously.
Across the 28 member states of the EU, 66 percent of large cities have plans to either adapt or mitigate to climate change. This rose to 80 percent for urban areas with a population of over 500,000.
However, the data were skewed towards northern and central Europe with high levels of diversity in ambition. 33 percent of cities have no plans at all to address the issue, including Athens, Salzburg and Palma de Mallorca. In addition, not one city in Bulgaria or Hungary has a standalone plan.
“Our study shows that cities are taking climate change threats seriously, but there is clearly more work to be done. It is a near certainty that if cities do not plan and act now to address climate change, they could find themselves in a far more precarious position in the future,” said lead authors Oliver Heidrich and Diana Reckien.
The best performing countries, in terms of having joined-up plans on the local level, were ones which have initiated climate legislation on the national level. For example, 144 cities showed evidence of having both adaption and mitigation plans, and these were mostly in the UK and France.
“While there is plenty that cities can do, national governments must still take the lead – providing legal and regulatory frameworks and guidance. Our study has demonstrated that this is one of the most effective ways to make sure that cities – and their citizens – are well prepared for the threats and opportunities that climate change will bring,” they added.
Photo Credit: NASA
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