A study published online in Nature on Feb. 29, 2016, analyzed 10 mega-cities, revealing that New York City is making the biggest financial efforts when it comes to combatting climate change. Last year, NYC spent $2.2 billion taking on new strategies, beating out other well-knowns like London and Paris. The city focused its efforts on building a stronger infrastructure, creating better defenses against flooding and building better drainage systems for its sidewalks.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that New York City is trying hard to evolve and survive. It stands to lose a lot in the coming years and is considered one of the most vulnerable cities in terms of climate change possibilities. Conservative reports estimate that by the year 2100, sea levels in New York City will be at least 61 centimeters higher. Higher sea levels mean extreme flooding, destruction and turmoil that we’ve already witnessed from past tragedies — Hurricane Katrina, being just one example of the power of water.
Maybe the news isn’t really what New York City is doing, but what other mega-cities aren’t doing — or potentially cannot even afford to do in the first place. New York’s efforts last year were 100 times more than Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, which was among the poorer cities in the study. And what’s important to note is that the cities doing the least to combat climate change, are the ones who seem to have the most people. Over the next 35 years, the populations of countries like China, India, Nigeria, and Indonesia are expected to grow tremendously — putting even more people at risk of climate change-fueled tragedies if the necessary efforts aren’t made.
The results of the study aren’t meant to shame the cities who are contributing little, but to figure out if these cities have enough resources to help themselves in the first place. The threat of climate change is only going to grow as we catapult into the future. We’ll need to consider not just how we can help ourselves, but how we can help other developing countries who contribute to our world’s community as a whole.