Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Latin American and Asian Cities Lead Way in Planning for Global Warming

ScienceDaily (June 5, 2012) — Quito, Ecuador, is not considered a global leader by most measures. But there is one way in which Quito is at the forefront of metropolises worldwide: in planning for climate change. For more than a decade, officials in Ecuador's mountainous capital have been studying the effects of global warming on nearby melting glaciers, developing ways of dealing with potential water shortages and even organizing conferences on climate change for leaders of other Latin American cities.

In so doing, Quito officials represent a global trend: The cities that are most active in preparing for climate change are not necessarily the biggest or wealthiest. Instead, they are often places buffeted by natural disasters and increasing changes in temperature or rainfall. In places where the climate seems to be a growing threat to human lives, resources and urban infrastructure, local officials have been working with scientists, conducting assessments and examining which new measures may best prepare them for the future.

Indeed, as an MIT survey released today shows, 95 percent of major cities in Latin America are planning for climate change, compared to only 59 percent of such cities in the United States.

Leadership on climate adaptation "can come from cities of many different sizes and ilks," says JoAnn Carmin, an associate professor in MIT's Department of Urban Studies and Planning and lead author of the survey's report. While international climate policy measures -- such as potential agreements limiting greenhouse gas emissions -- require agreement among national governments, Carmin says, "cities are able to make some important strides in this area. There are numerous examples from around the world where there are no national policies or explicit support for adaptation, but where local governments are developing plans and taking action to address climate impacts." More