November 15, 2019

What the IPCC special report on global warming of 1.5 degrees means for cities

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

Climate science must be accessible to urban policymakers, because without them, there will be no limiting global warming to 1.5°C.

8 billion people in the world will experience the impacts of climate change in the next decades, most of them living in cities. Therefore, urban policymakers will play a key role in adapting to and driving solutions to climate change. In order to effectively do so, they must realize they cannot do it alone.

The impacts of and solutions to climate change will be experienced by the entire world in the next decades, with upwards of 70% of the global population living in cities and urban areas. If action is not undertaken, climate change will subject global and local ecosystems to increasing levels of risk.

Cities are key implementers of policy steps to meet this challenge and exhibit the necessary political leadership to do so. Urban systems have the power to amplify or reduce the impacts associated with 1.5°C of warming or any breaching of that threshold. Successful city-level climate action strategies are at work today, and they are being advanced regionally and internationally through city networks. Some cities are within regions that have already exceeded 1.5°C and have been forced to adapt, affording them experiences that can be shared with, adapted for, or replicated in other cities. But city action alone will not be sufficient. Limiting warming to 1.5°C will require immediate action within and across sectors, as well as multilevel governance.

Rapid actions and far-reaching systems transitions in energy and industry, land use and ecosystems, urban and infrastructure are needed in order to overcome this challenge. These actions will have to be linked to the implementation of the SDGs in order to be as effective as possible. Material basis and policy solutions are available to urban policy maker and they must seize it for transformations and system changes in the direction of greater sustainability, inclusion, and resilience.

Go to the report now

Finding this resource useful?

We’ve got hundreds more toolkits, videos, podcasts and reports available for free. Simply register now and you’ll get full access to our library of world class city building resources.