Why cities in this year’s National Climate Change Week are tackling climate change

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Cities are more likely to respond quickly to climate change

Climate change is a problem that affects people in a wide range of areas: from climate refugees to health problems.

Some cities have said that they want to lead the way to a cleaner, more resilient society, in which cities are able to respond more quickly to changing climatic conditions.

Cambridge has put climate change at the top of its priorities and signed a framework agreement that commits the city to reducing its carbon emissions by 40% by 2025.

Yorkshire city Sheffield has committed to measures including raising awareness of climate change and increasing transport alternatives.

“Many of our cities are at a pretty early stage in understanding that they want to do climate change as an agenda,” says Martin Rendell, who runs the City Climate Change group.

At the other end of the scale, just four cities in the UK have committed to tackling climate change as a top policy priority – Bristol, Brighton, Cardiff and Bath.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Boulder-esque snowfall, say some locals, may increase their lifestyle in the USA

But as, with large swathes of the UK, the weather has started to turn less cold as the years roll by, many are hoping that this will give way to warmer climates.

In Boulder, Colorado, where unusually cold weather has led to some people getting restless, four factors – the city’s mountainous terrain, increased fuel costs and fewer workers due to housing shortage – have combined to put pressure on residents to start changing their lifestyles.

“The climate is changing everywhere and some of those changes are also felt here,” says Rachel Nguyen, who runs the Boulder chapter of the Science Faction, a citizen-scientist collective.

“We’re going to have to adapt to local conditions.”

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Canada is another nation where snow this time of year looks the same as it did before.

“In the past five years there has been an increase in cold weather. There have been a lot of temperature rises and low snowfall rates – because of the mountain range as well,” says Joe Fazio, a professor at the University of California, Davis.

“This might just be the pattern that it’s going to happen all the time – we need to decide what the next trend is.”

Image copyright AP Image caption Residents in the US city of Aspen have set up community trees to help reduce CO2 emissions

There have been other efforts to take control of climate change in Aspen, Colorado.

The local city council started using US$6m (£4.4m) of central government funding to buy up land, build green infrastructure and put in community trees – all to help reduce carbon emissions.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption But some residents of Shanghai have speculated that carbon limits on aviation could increase heat stress in cities like Shanghai

While the sun and the water might be our biggest friend in the coming years, it seems that one of our biggest enemies could be climate change.

The Inuits are concerned, for example, that melting ice is threatening their way of life.

Andrew Huxley is a former teacher and is based in Cambridge. On top of investigating how climate change is affecting the cities he visited on his BBC Current Affairs series Cities, he’s also researching one of the major issues linked to that – urban migration.

“The question that’s starting to get asked is whether global warming has an impact on migration.”

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption As more people migrate, some are concerned about climate change, whilst others feel it’s a good opportunity for new culture

And in Beijing, China, new hotels are being built every week to accommodate the city’s citizens.

“I have been talking to people in the hotel industry and hear how there has been a huge increase in tourism,” says Steve Xam, a researcher at the University of Cambridge’s department of political science.

“It’s driving down the cost of living and the workforce that’s helping to contribute to climate change – so they’re moving to where there’s work.”

To find out more about our Climate Week series, see here

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