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Climate-Focus-Paper "Cities and Climate Change"

Cities are drivers of global climate change and at the same time are affected by climate impacts. In addition to climate change, cities are confronted by challenges in relation to urbanization, natural hazards, and their interactions. This Focus Paper has been developed in cooperation with the KfW Development Bank to highlight the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through climate mitigation policies, as well as for adaptation action to combat existing and potential climate impacts.

The key messages of the Climate-Focus-Paper "Cities and Climate Change" summarized as a quick read

  • The majority of the world’s population already lives in urban areas, and this trend will increase, with global urban population projected to increase to 66% by 2050.
  • Cities consume up to 80% of total global energy production, and account for 71 to 76% of global CO2 emissions. Accordingly, cities have a major role to play in achieving the global climate policy goal of limiting global warming to no more than 2°C.
  • Cities are highly vulnerable to climate change, and as such, require coherent, carefully considered mitigation and adaptation strategies, where potential co-benefits between the two, are included.
  • With carbon emissions still rising, and the threat posed by climate impacts becoming ever clearer, there is an urgent need for action.
  • Existing infrastructure in developing cities is often of sub-standard quality, and thus fails to provide adequate protection from extreme weather events and changing climatic conditions. The urban poor are particularly vulnerable towards extreme weather events.
  • Many of the world´s cities are situated along the coast, and as such are exposed to flooding from storm surges and sea level rise. The risk of coastal flooding is further increased in cities affected by subsidence.
  • Financing for mitigation and adaptation actions exist, but are difficult to access for cities. Innovative solutions are needed now to close the finance gap.
Climate Focus Paper Cities Diagramm

System map of drivers in urban areas and selected adaptation entry points to reduce vulnerability (adapted from Sniffer)


See also article "Cities and Climate Change" on the Earth System Knowledge Platform (ESKP) of Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft


The Climate-Focus-Paper is available as a free of charge order.

Order Form Climate-Focus-Paper Cities

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PD Dr. Steffen Bender

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