Impacts of Climate Change on Cities and Other Human Settlements

Without effective steps to limit and adapt to climate change, cities will face a number of climate-related challenges. For example, an increase in warm temperature extremes, coupled with the heat island effect, could increase heat-related health problems, especially for vulnerable populations. Temperature increases will also increase periods of peak energy demands and, in conjunction with other climate changes, are expected to worsen urban air pollution. In many cases, this pollution could extend well beyond the boundaries of cities, potentially affecting ecosystems and crop production on regional scales. Sea level rise and more intense storm surges are of concern for the 635 million people worldwide who live less than 33 feet (10 meters) above sea level, many of them in coastal cities. Cities and settlements adjacent to fire-prone habitats are projected to confront increasing threats of fire, and desert cities, such as those in the American West, will likely confront water shortages.

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