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Cities must lead actions to adapt to climate change

In the cities, are the main causes of climate change, but also part of the solution to this problem.. Cities have the power to change the world, with its financial centers, of culture, trade and innovation. Nonetheless, 70% of cities are already suffering from the effects of climate change, what can put them at serious risk. The resulting effects are not just physical. The economic consequences can be equally devastating.. As much as cities structure themselves towards climate resilience, Unexpected expenses related to floods or long-lasting droughts can cause major disruptions to business operations, and generate major damage to municipal budgets.

As a way to mitigate these effects, the biggest cities in europe, gathered in the Eurocities network, are moving decisively towards mitigating this phenomenon. Among the member cities of the network, 64% have already committed to achieving carbon neutrality until 2050. Between them, 12 cities pledged to achieve neutrality before 2040. Among these cities, 87% adopted strategies to adapt to the impacts of climate change, in order to protect its citizens. These strategies involve buildings, energy, governance and transport.

big gains, in terms of reducing harmful gases, can be obtained by changing the way we plan, we build, we manage and feed our cities. well planned cities, compact, and structured with a good public transport system, can help to greatly reduce our per capita carbon footprint, and are essential to achieving many of the Sustainable Development Goals, of which climate action is an essential part.

Documents issued by the United Nations Human Settlements Program (ONU-Habitat) reaffirm the urgent need to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide produced by our homes and commercial buildings. Expanding cities around the world can create highly energy-efficient buildings and infrastructure, designed considering the local climate and using innovative technologies. For example, most new buildings in the next 30 years will be built in Africa and Asia, and should minimize the use of air conditioning, maximizing natural ventilation.

Also according to UN-Habitat, to feed our cities, we need to generate clean and efficient energy in terms of the use of natural resources, and away from fossil fuels.

From 2009, the cost of renewable electricity has fallen for both solar and wind power, and will continue to fall as they are used more. Large projects for offshore wind farms to generate energy are underway.

The extraction and manufacture of building materials, like steel and concrete, and the construction processes, produce carbon dioxide. Therefore, the use of low carbon infrastructure will be of utmost importance to reduce emissions.

Transport also produces significant amounts of emissions.. Cities should not be planned around cars, but yes of people, and should invest in zero carbon public transport, protected trails and bike paths.

Electric public transport, powered by renewable energy, can prevent 250 million tons of carbon emissions up to 2030, in addition to improving people's health and reducing noise and air pollution in our cities.

As it decomposes, organic matter emits methane, which is a much more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide in the short term. That is why, it is essential to minimize organic waste, improving waste management methods and taking steps to capture and use methane emissions from landfills.

In addition to long-term solutions, that demand a deeper change in the way our cities develop and the operation of our economies, we can all make personal choices to change our lifestyle and consumption patterns on a daily basis., Helping, thereby, to build a better future for humanity.

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