Sao Paulo to Hong Kong Report Climate Threat to Economies

Cities from Sao Paulo to Hong Kong say climate change threatens their economies, and most are taking measures to protect business, according to a report today from the Carbon Disclosure Project.

About 76 percent of 207 cities surveyed by the non-profit group said that extreme weather and other effects of climate change put at risk the stability of their local economies, the CDP said. Threats include damage to transport, infrastructure and property, and the risk to human health, the study said.

Cities are on the front line of global warming, with rising sea levels posing a danger to coastal dwellers from New York and Miami to Bangkok. Three-quarters of threats reported by companies are also recognized by the cities where they operate, according to CDP, which said civic authorities are already working to protect their economies.

“Local governments are storming ahead to protect their citizens and businesses from the impacts of climate change, but further collaboration with business is needed to increase city resilience,” said Larissa Bulla, head of CDP’s cities program. “Through the provision of information, policies and incentives, cities can help equip businesses to manage these risks.”

The United Nations estimates sea levels may increase 26 centimeters to 98 centimeters (10 inches to 39 inches) by the end of the century. It also projects global average temperatures will rise by as much as 4.8 degrees Celsius (8.6 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2100, a rate far greater than at the end of the last ice age. Until the most recent period of warming, UN researchers estimate the maximum pace of temperature gains was about 1.5 degrees per thousand years.

City Population

Home to half the world’s population and more than 80 percent of economic output, cities also face drought, floods and heat waves along with other risks from global warming, the CDP said.

In many places, authorities are taking actions to protect businesses from perceived threats, the CDP said. Hong Kong is spending $2.7 billion on flood defenses, including underground storage tanks, widening rivers and building drainage tunnels. Sao Paulo is working with companies to improve water infrastructure and lessen health impacts of poor sanitation, which can be made worse by warming temperatures, CDP said.

In total, the project identified 757 separate activities by the cities it surveyed to adapt their infrastructure to the possible effects of climate change. It said 102 of the cities had climate adaptation plans in place.

The CDP said the expansion of its survey to 207 cities in 2014 from 110 last year was made possible by a grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies, which was formed by Michael Bloomberg. Bloomberg is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg News.

The London-based CDP is a non-profit climate researcher that pushes for companies and governments to disclose their impacts on the environment.

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