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Cities versus global warming

Given the increase in temperatures caused by climate change, cities are becoming the driving force of change towards a sustainable energy model.

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For centuries, cities have led commercial development, economic growth, technological developments and innovation. One of the society’s greatest challenges in the coming decades is the fight against climate change and the energy transition, and cities must show their leadership to make possible the necessary change of the energy model, and themselves be the motors of change.

In a special assessment report, the United Nations has issued a severe warning of what will occur in cities if the temperature continues to rise at the current pace. The consequences will be uncontrollable: rising sea level, extreme weather events, increasingly common heat waves and intense periods of drought, not to mention devastating forest fires and hundreds of species going extinct in rural areas.


The cities that could end up being submerged due to the poles melting

Hundreds of coastal urban centres could be submerged by rising sea levels due to climate change, according to UN climate predictions. Among them, the most affected would be Osaka (Japan), Alexandria (Egypt), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) and Shanghai (China), though others like Venice (Italy), New York and Miami (United States) would also disappear.

In some cases, like in Oceania, entire countries formed of islands could disappear underwater. In total, it is estimated that a 3-degree increase in the planet’s climate would cause over 275 million people to be displaced due to the floods caused by melting.


Spain, a critical point in climate change

Our country is not escaping the effects of climate change. In fact, according to experts, the south of the European continent will specifically be one of the areas most affected by a possible rise in temperatures.

The coastal cities of Cádiz, Coruña, Gijón, Bilbao, San Sebastián, Málaga, Alicante, Valencia and Barcelona, among others, will be threatened by the rise of the sea in the event of a 3-degree temperature increase.

In addition, the geographic peculiarities of Madrid, in the interior of the peninsula, and the high pollution of the capital, may amplify the "heat island" effect and cause an increase of temperatures of up to eight degrees. In fact, according to a study carried out by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) along with the organisation of scientists and journalists Climate CentralMadrid holds fourth place among all cities in the world that will suffer the greatest increase of temperatures from now until 2100, only behind Sofia, Skopje and Belgrade.

“The coastal cities of Cádiz, Coruña, Gijón, Bilbao, San Sebastián, Málaga, Alicante, Valencia and Barcelona, among others, will be threatened by rising seas in the event of a 3-degree temperature increase”

Moving toward a model of a sustainable city

Cities have an essential role in the fight against climate change. Cities are the first that should change and lead this evolution toward a life with low carbon emissions, based on efficiency and renewable energies.

To the advantage of cities, it is easier for them to reduce these emissions, given that their main pollutant sectors already have sufficiently mature technologies to be deployed on a mass-scale. Some examples of this would be the modal change of transport, the thermal control systems, such as thermostats and sensors, and the installation of heat pumps in the building, according to the data provided by the report titled "Energetically Sustainable Cities: the 2030 Urban Energy Transition" prepared by Deloitte.

According to the study, the energy transition in Spanish cities requires measures that revolve around four focal points:

1.    Define municipal objectives and model of governance.

2.    Promote new models of sustainable mobility.

3.    Carry out actions that increase energy efficiency and uses of non-pollutant energies in construction.

4.    Convert the Municipal Administrations into an example of sustainable energy.

These measures, mainly intended for the town halls and municipal administrations, require the encouragement and support of all citizens in order to achieve cities effectively leading the fight against global warming.

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