Climate change and municipalities
Warming of the climate system is unequivocal while it is strongly believed that this is attributed to a great extent to anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the mid-20th century.
Global average air and ocean temperatures are increasing, precipitation patterns are shifting, snow and glaciers are melting, global average sea level is rising and extreme weather events, such as floods, droughts and heat waves are becoming more frequent and intense.
Independently of the future climate change scenarios and of the efforts for mitigating GHG emissions, it is believed that climate will continue changing in the coming decades due to the previous and current GHG emissions.
Climate change impacts that are already felt globally, vary from region to region depending on the different climatic, geographic and socio-economic conditions.
Climate change impacts on Europe's regions
Reference: ΕΕΑ, 2015
Cities and towns, with their high population densities, their large number of poor and elderly residents as well as their dependence on critical infrastructure and networks, are extremely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. The concentration of people in urban centres restricts vegetation and green spaces, thus increasing risks related to heat and floods. The impacts of climate change on the urban environment and its citizens have consequences for public health, water availability and quality, energy consumption and essential infrastructure.
Adaptation consists of actions responding to current and future climate change impacts and vulnerabilities. It means not only protecting against adverse impacts and minimizing the damage they can cause, but also building resilience and taking advantage of any opportunities that may arise.
- The earlier we plan adaptation responses, the better equipped we will be to cope with challenges.
- It is less expensive to take early, planned adaptation action than to pay the price of not adapting.
Cities and local authorities are critical in addressing climate change impacts through pro-active adaptation. Local authorities are ideally placed to be the key drivers in the implementation of adaptation measures, improving the overall resilience of local territories in policy fields.
Although climate change projections have been made at worldwide and national level for many countries, and vulnerability assessments and adaptation strategies have been conducted for several countries, there is not enough information for assessing climate change impacts at local level in order for the municipalities to develop urban adaptation strategies. In addition, municipalities lack the necessary scientific and technical knowledge and expertise for carrying out such tasks and as a result, they are in need of the appropriate frameworks and tools to support them for better informed decision making.