Climate Changed Cities?


We are used to thinking of climate change as a global issue. Of a planet in peril, planeloads of negotiators meeting to reach international agreements, streets full of protestors and the enduring need to protect our precious common resources. Despite its familiarity this modern day fairy tale of calamity and heroes, like all good stories, still captures our imagination. Yet there are other climate change tales to be told.

Over two decades ago when global responses to climate change first began, a quiet and often unnoticed movement began in cities in North America and Europe to tell the story of climate change as an urban issue. After two decades of action, cities now find themselves in the climate change limelight.

Cities, as this story goes, are both central to the problem of climate change – being the places where over two-thirds of carbon emissions are produced – and to its solution – offering the means and capacities through which to develop more resilient infrastructure, address vulnerability, and develop low carbon economies. To address climate change, we need to stop thinking about the problem only as a global one and think as well of climate change as a fundamentally urban issue.

This realisation of climate as an urban issue has begun to change cities. If two decades ago responses adopted in cities were mainly led by municipal governments and focused on energy conservation and their own bottom line, the agenda has expanded rapidly to reach into the strategic areas of urban development – infrastructure, economy, urban planning, quality of life and regeneration. Networks of cities concerned with these agendas have expanded both geographically and in membership such that the EU Covenant of Mayors has more than 6,600 participants while several hundred cities are —> Read More