Urban Climate Change

Though cities occupy only 3% of the globe, they account for 70% of the greenhouse gases worldover. This contributes hugely to the warming of the planet and has an adverse impact on cities. India is the fourth largest emitter of greenhouse gases and these will increase by 90% of the current levels in the next decade.

UN Habitat estimates 60% of the world’s population would be living in cities by 2030. Urban population living in cities in India is projected to double, from 400 million to 800 million, by 2050. By 2021, 75 Indian cities are predicted to house a population of more than a million people. To accommodate this rise in population, two -thirds of the buildings in India in 2030 would have been constructed in urban areas after 2010.

But the cities are poorly serviced with poor quality of water, toilets and drainage. Air and water pollution put together with bad solid waste management, in Indian cities, is ranked among the worst in the world. Every sixth urban dweller lives in a slum which the Indian government describes as accommodations “unfit for human habitation”.

In the coming decades, the way in which cities will be built and the manner of their growth will determine the consumption and production practices, and how climate resilient cities will be.

One analysis points out that only 30% of 59 city plans showed awareness of climate change. One way to change this could be by mainstreaming climate change into existing city plans for energy, transport, health disaster risk reduction.

India’s urban growth is linked to increase in population, changing land-use patterns and industrialization. These are collectively compounded by climate change.

The impact of climate change poses considerable risk to Indian cities. It is expected that impacts will include a general increase in temperatures by 2–4°C, an increase of 7–20% in annual precipitation with increased intensity, alongside increases in riverine flooding, cyclones, storm surges, and sea-level rise are few of the impacts of climate change on Indian cities.

Increased urbanisation has led to “urban heat islands” and according to one study urban areas in Bangalore were 2 degrees warmer than their rural counterparts. Once known for its agreeable climate, Bangalore has lost huge portion of urban tree cover to infrastructure development and dredged many lakes to make way for high-rise buildings, bus-terminals and stadiums. This has contributed to the city becoming warmer with strain on its natural resources.

Bengaluru Sustainability Forum is a place that brings together urban practitioners, scientists, planners, civil citizen groups and people invested in the idea of urban sustainability under one roof to reflect on changes to the urban landscape. To this effect, the Forum held a retreat that brought a host of people from diverse backgrounds, engaged with urban climate change, together under a roof. Kindly find the documentation of the retreat here. Resources in form of reports, projects and weblinks can be found by scrolling below.