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Climate Change Risk Assessment and Management

Water: A Careful Balance

Of all the issues that cities face, water deserves special mention. It is vital to cities, but too much or too little water can push a city to the brink. Cities reported that extreme changes to the amount of rainfall they receive pose a serious risk for their

citizens and the ability of businesses to operate successfully in their jurisdiction. Cities inundated with increased frequency and intensity of rainfall are experiencing floods, landslides and other natural disasters which are claiming lives and destroying property. In 2010, Rio de Janeiro experienced one of the worst natural disasters in Brazil’s history due to an intense rainfall. Intense rainfall also results in reduced water quality in urban areas—particularly around combined-sewer drainage systems which are overwhelmed during heavy precipitation events leading to sewage overflow into water bodies.

On the other hand, C40 cities are facing the opposite situation—more frequent/intense droughts are creating water supply issues. Water shortages have implications not only for drinking water, but for industry located in the watershed. In water-stressed regions water is often jointly managed and a decrease in flow can have political implications. Las Vegas reported that ‘changes in the availability of water would complicate the complex water-rights and interstate compacts that govern water allocation regionally’. In Seattle, reduced average annual rainfall will decrease the quantity of water available for electricity generation. In Rotterdam, when water levels drop due to drought, river transport and navigation becomes limited. A variable and unpredictable water supply disrupts the careful and often precarious balance that cities have struck- arranging sufficient water for people, industry and agriculture while avoiding danger. Cities that identify the risks their city will face and make plans for the future are those that will best be able to guarantee security for citizens and business alike.

adaptation strategy. 6 responding cities are working in partnership with international organizations on their adaptation work, including ICLEI, IPCC, or the World Bank, but consistent risk and adaptation reporting remains a long-term goal.

Nearly every city government noted that climate change could threaten the ability of businesses to operate successfully in their city 79 percent (33) of responding cities believe that the physical impacts of climate change could threaten the ability of local businesses to operate successfully. Extreme weather events may interrupt businesses directly or indirectly. Direct impacts relate to property damage, human mobility or health, whereas indirect impacts could cause disruption to supply chains. In addition, extreme weather events (or risk of) may lead to an increase in the cost of insurance premiums and security.

Several cities also mention that they foresee additional risks for some social groups, such as low-income individuals, (pregnant) women, children, elderly people and the disabled.

“The City has a staggering amount of blighted properties that it is still dealing with after Hurricane Katrina. As we deal with this excessive blight, encouraging developers to invest in the City as time goes by becomes increasingly difficult.”

New Orleans

“In February 2007, Jakarta was hit by one of the worst floods ever experienced covering 70% of the metropolitan area, with total Financial Losses of US $ 879 million, 79 lives lost and 223,203 refugees.”


“In December 2010, our city formulated the Midterm Four Year Plan (2010-2013) and eight ‘Yokohama Growth Strategy’, and the first strategy, ‘Environmental Cutting Edge City Strategy’ aims to vitalize the economy in our city by creating demands necessary to shift to a low- carbon society.”

Yokohama 29 © 2011 Carbon Disclosure Project

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