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Major Cities Adapting to Climate Change
By Robyn Taylor Knapp

While national governments are struggling to establish global climate control programs, many major cities have taken matters into their own hands by taking initiatives against climate change effects. A report entitled Wealthier, Healthier Cities by the Carbon Disclosure Project and the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group reveals that many of the world’s largest cities have launched energy efficiency and other initiatives to lessen the effects of climate change.

The Carbon Disclosure Project is non-for-profit organization providing the only global system for companies and cities to measure, disclose, manage, and share vital environmental information. Their long-standing partner C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group is a network of the world’s megacities working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address climate risks and impacts locally and globally.

The report is based on responses from 110 cities around the world. It found that in general, emissions reductions activities by cities are pro-business. Of actions that cities are taking to reduce green house gas emissions at the city-wide level, 62% have the potential to attract new business investment and grow the economy.

Climate change action is making cities leaner and richer. Nine cities reported nearly $40 million collectively in savings per year from tackling climate change. The report also states that reducing emissions and adapting to climate change makes for healthier citizens. More than half (55%) of reporting cities are undertaking emissions reduction actions that promote alternative forms of transportation including walking and cycling.

“While international negotiations continue to make incremental progress, C40 Cities are forging ahead. Collectively they have taken more than 4,700 actions to tackle climate change, and the will to do more is stronger than ever. As innovators and practitioners, our cities are at the forefront of this issue—arguably the greatest challenge of our time,” says New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, current chair of C40.

Many cities are working to protect their residents and infrastructure from potential climate change disasters. San Francisco is undertaking studies to account for how climate change may negatively affect the city, and then taking action accordingly. “The city will build new infrastructure to deal with storm surge, storm intensity, and sea level rise, ensuring maximum resiliency for business, among others,” the report claims.

In 2012, Mayor Bloomberg announced the Special Initiative for Rebuilding and Resiliency. The task is to address how New York City can rebuild to be more resilient in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, with a new focus on: how to improve citywide infrastructure and building resilience in the medium and long-term. In New York alone, losses from Sandy amounted to around $19 billion in damages. The probability of a storm causing New York City as much economic damage as Hurricane Sandy will increase by 17% by the 2020’s and 40% by the 2050s.

Actions to reduce emissions have beneficial effects for human health. Air quality can improve considerably as cities close coal-fired power plants. Chicago has plans to close two major coal-fired power plants, Crawford and Fisk, by the end of 2014. Other cities including Montreal, Stockholm, Oslo, Baltimore, and New York are looking to replace fuel oil burning boilers in buildings with natural gas burning appliances. These actions decrease GHG emissions and increase air quality and public health benefits.

Climate change action by city governments can yield strong and clear advantages for their citizens and businesses. Analysis from this report indicates that cities are realizing additional gains by acting to combat climate change. First Affirmative Financial Network is a proud supporter of these initiatives.

Mention of specific companies or securities should not be considered a recommendation to buy or sell that security. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Posted: July 24, 2013