A Climate Resilient City
What makes a climate resilient city?
The WMO (World Meteoric Organisation) has noted the worldwide effects of climate change caused by the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, with massive average temperature increases – the past few years being the hottest on record – and increased incidences of extreme weather phenomenon, such as hurricanes and monsoons. Sheffield is not immune to dangers posed by climate change – in 2000, and again in 2007, the city experienced severe flooding, with estimated damage costs to businesses and infrastructure totalling hundreds of millions of pounds, and in 2007, two deaths.
Due to this risk, Sheffield must become resilient to the effects of climate change, through changes and improvements to infrastructure.
The city is well-known for being based on seven hills and five rivers, with its 150 miles of flowing waterways that all converge in the city centre. These rivers pose the most immediate and obvious risk from climate change, and as such, the council has set out a Waterways Strategy to illustrate how the city is at risk of flooding, and how this can be managed. Significant investment is needed to create sustainable drainage solutions, and there are prime opportunities for low-carbon business and travel development opportunities alongside these natural river corridors.
Another point of resilience that Sheffield must be prepared for is heat and drought – with climate change, summer heatwaves are expected to be worse, and conditions can be devastating on vulnerable residents and local health services. This can be improved through new green infrastructure plans, which include updating city planning to avoid urban heat islands (areas where buildings absorb more heat from the sun) and using water harvesting and storage systems.
The strategy also recommends looking into how Sheffield can switch over to locally-produced, seasonal foods rather than relying on long supply chains, along with making sure that meat production is sustainable. Investment in this area will have many benefits in many areas, creating resilient food supply networks, lowering carbon emissions, creating health benefits for Sheffield residents, and creating new business opportunities and employment opportunities in the city.