The impacts of climate change are already felt all over the world, in rich and poor, developed and emerging countries. In cities around the globe, these impacts are felt most deeply, from rising seas in coastal cities to devastating droughts in landlocked towns.
Yet for many cities, especially those in South Asia, they must cope with a multitude of challenges beyond the effects of climate change: rapid population growth, overburdened infrastructure, and income inequality, to name just a few. The next few years will be critical to determine how effectively we will rise to the challenge of protecting our cities, and therefore our planet. But this work can’t be undertaken blindly –we must ensure that our climate mitigation and adaptation strategies are based on sound scientific data and are tackled in an integrated manner with public and private partners.
As we are all aware, cities are major contributors to climate change, accounting for up to 70 percent of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions globally, mainly due to rapid urbanization and increase in energy usage in different sectors, i.e. residential, commercial, industries, solid waste management, transportation, urban services, etc. Despite these risks, many cities have not yet addressed climate change.
The reasons include a lack of relevant city policies and action plans, regulations on urban planning and environment that have not been adjusted to manage climate change, lack of capacity and resources, and lack of public awareness. However, cities have the potential to diminish the causes and impacts of climate change together with their local authorities. It is vital for cities to follow an integrated planning approach and to link each initiative with state and national government schemes.
To prepare any city policy or climate resilient action plan, a strong scientific data base needs to be developed. Rajkot Municipal Corporation, with support from ICLEI South Asia, has aggregated and analyzed supply and demand-side energy usage data and prepared a greenhouse gas emission inventory to identify priority sectors based on scientific assessment.
Rajkot Municipal Corporation has prepared a climate resilient city action plan using ICLEI’s ClimateResilientCities methodology tool, which includes scientific research-based mitigation and adaptations actions to reduce GHG emissions, which are now part of Rajkot’s regular planning process and linked with various sub-national and national government schemes for funding.
Cities are showing what is possible by developing innovative solutions to local and global climate problems.And the benefits of local level climate action are huge. They pave the way for a better quality of life, creating new green jobs and sustainable economic development in our communities.
To continue doing our part to realize a shared vision of a sustainable future – and for other small, medium sized and large cities to take decisive action – we must work together with national governments, researchers, innovators and the technology community to ensure that our climate mitigation and adaptation strategies continue to be based on sound scientific data.