Cities urged to work with scientists on climate change

Cities urged to work with scientists on climate change
Credit: Australian National University

An urban environment expert at ANU has warned that city councils acting alone to address climate change, in the absence of an evidence-based systems approach, can have unintended consequences.

Professor Xuemei Bai from ANU and other urban experts from around the world identified six research priorities for cities and in a Nature comment piece.

They also called for a stronger collaboration between scientists, urban policy makers and practitioners, ahead of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Cities and Climate Change Science Conference in Canada next week. "Cities are open, complex, dynamic systems with a global reach," said Professor Bai, an urban environment and human ecology expert at the ANU Fenner School of Environment and Society.

"Well-intended local actions can displace issues to other sectors or into the future. One city's crack-down on energy-intensive production might shift the problem to less-regulated regions, with no net effect on global emissions."

The Conference aims to develop a shared global research agenda on cities and climate change, bringing together over 700 researchers, policy makers and practitioners from more than 80 countries.

Professor Bai said cities were increasingly feeling the effects of extreme weather.

"Last year, more than 1,000 people died and 45 million people lost homes, livelihoods and services when severe floods hit Southeast Asian cities," she said.

"By 2030, millions of people and trillions of dollars of infrastructure globally will be at risk from flooding, drought, wildfires and other natural disasters."

Professor Bai said researchers, policymakers and city authorities needed to work more closely together to improve how cities mitigate and adapt to climate change.

"A lack of long-term studies of urban climates and their impacts makes it hard for city officials to plan decades ahead, so science needs to have a stronger role in urban policy and practice," Professor Bai said.

"A systems approach is needed to deliver on as well as the United Nations' New Urban Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals. More needs to be known about interactions, trade-offs and synergies between urban processes and their impacts elsewhere."

Professor Bai said scientific understanding of interactions between cities and climate needed to be improved.

"Climate processes are complex—more so in cities. Urban air pollution is causing heavier rainfall as fine particles influence clouds that, in turn, exacerbates flooding in cities," she said.

"We need to know how urban physical characteristics, building materials and human activities affect atmospheric circulation, heat and light radiation, urban energy and water budgets."

Professor Bai said cities were at the forefront of addressing these challenges, with many cities experimenting with innovative measures to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

"Successful practices need to be upscaled. It is important that we identify, analyse and build transferable knowledge that can help cities to learn from the front runners," she said.

Professor Bai and her co-authors recommended that city councils should establish scientific advisory boards, chaired by a chief science adviser.

"These would enhance the profile of science, build capacity and leadership, and provide a point of contact," she said.

Explore further

Scientists call for greater say on global plan for future cities

More information: Xuemei Bai et al. Six research priorities for cities and climate change, Nature (2018). DOI: 10.1038/d41586-018-02409-z
Journal information: Nature

Citation: Cities urged to work with scientists on climate change (2018, March 1) retrieved 27 May 2019 from
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User comments

Mar 01, 2018
We can do it. The Pacific States are doing it.

We outgrew guns, god, and paranoia.

Mar 01, 2018
Is grandpa aware the future got here a few years ago?

My entire household and two electric vehicles are powered by my PV solar system.

Is he still polluting the neighborhood?

Mar 01, 2018
Extreme Weather can happen during a Climate Change Episode or not. There is a need to be rigorous in the use of scientific terminology and convey the accurate message to ordinary people.

Mar 01, 2018
There is no science in any of this. Why is publishing this nonsense?

Mar 02, 2018
The waning of the last Ice Age is often confused for man-made global warming. In addition, warming makes more and more unlivable areas on the world livable. N. America is 1/2 wasteland due to a cold climate. That will change and with population growth as it is, we need more land area.

Mar 02, 2018
Why am I no longer surprised at the ignorance of deniers?

Mar 02, 2018
here is a beautifull example to be followed ;


i just hope they have the a handle on the fire risk

Mar 02, 2018
Scientists have already figured new battery technology for storage, battery powered cars, windmills, and photovoltaics. In 10 years this will be implemented because it will be so much cheaper than fossil fuels. In 20 years fossil fuels will hardly be used for fuel. Just for making plastics.

Mar 03, 2018
Because scientists, especially climate scientists, always have the best solutions. Never mind that silly notion of adaptation, let's come up with bold, unrealistic and unachievable ideas that ignore practical realities like, you know, economics. Because Climate Change is Godzilla and will devour us all!

In other news, global temperature is still headed down, recovering from the unusually warm temperatures of the big El Niño of 2016. Looks like the warming hiatus is still going.

Mar 03, 2018
The propogandists are out in force today. Here's actual science that shows how wrong they are:


And additional data:

At this point global warming denialists have the same intellectual stature as flat earthers.

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