How Cities And Businesses Are Collaborating To Take On Climate Change

National government may be stuck doing nothing, but cities all over the world–from New York to London to Singapore–are taking its risks seriously.

How Cities And Businesses Are Collaborating To Take On Climate Change
[Image: Skyline via Shutterstock]

Federal officials may tread lightly when talking about climate change, but city governments and businesses are already taking action.


A new report, Protecting Our Capital, reveals that the majority of cities view climate change as a physical risk to their local businesses–and they see financial benefits to taking action. The report, from the climate nonprofit CDP, a network of cities known as the C40, and the engineering design firm AECOM, analyzed data on climate change strategies and concerns from officials in 207 cities around the world, including Tokyo, Sydney, and New York.

Cities are clearly concerned about climate change. 76% of cities said that climate change could impact business. At the same time, 75% of the biggest climate-related risks disclosed by businesses are also seen as threats by their respective cities.

Financial risks include an uptick in insurance costs, loss of tourism due to environmental degradation, supply chain issues, and a lack of raw materials. In terms of weather events, cities and business are most concerned about storms and flooding, sea level rise, and temperature increases. Drought is recognized as a bigger issue by businesses than government, for reasons that are unclear.

The report offers a number of examples of how cities and businesses are working together to build resilience. Some highlights:

  • London’s planning policy requires new buildings to prioritize energy efficiency. Great Portland Estates, a large property investor in the city, has started designing buildings that feature natural shading and passive cooling as a way to cut down on energy bills and increase resilience during periods of extreme heat.

  • Threatened by rising seas, Singapore has set minimal height levels for reclaimed land and has commissioned a study to look at areas along its coastline that could be impacted by sea level rise in the future.

  • Post-Hurricane Sandy, New York City has implemented a number of climate change resiliency measures, including setting $293 million aside to assist businesses in becoming more resilient and developing a plan to rebuild Sandy-destroyed communities and beef up resiliency of the city’s infrastructure and buildings.

  • Sao Paulo isn’t the most walkable city in the world, but it is sinking $22 billion into its transportation infrastructure–a move that will make it easier to transport products, supplies, and people across the city. It’s also working with Sabesp, the biggest water company in Brazil, to create sewage networks for the city’s many poor neighborhoods and slums.

About the author

Ariel Schwartz is a Senior Editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine and more.