Scots cities world's safest against climate risks

Picture: John Devlin
Picture: John Devlin

Glasgow and Edinburgh are among the safest cities in the world when it comes to protection against the effects of global warming, according to new research.

The findings come from a new study by global risk analytics company Verisk Maplecroft (VM), which has assessed the threat from climate change to the fastest growing urban centres worldwide over the next 30 years.

The study combines the latest UN projections on annual population growth rates in more than 1,800 cities with subnational data from VM’s 2018 Climate Change Vulnerability Index.

Analysis of the data shows a total of 236 cities face “extreme” dangers from rising temperatures and increasingly severe weather brought on by climate change. More than 95 per cent of these are in Africa and Asia, including capitals and key commercial hubs.

A further 14 cities are in the “high risk” category.

At the other end of the spectrum, 86 per cent of the safest cities are located in Europe and the Americas.

The UK is home to the five cities considered most insulated from climate change impacts: Glasgow, Edinburgh, Belfast, Preston and Middlesbrough.

“UK cities are likely to be exposed to worsening winter storms and more frequent flooding, but high levels of preparedness mean they are well placed to respond,” said Dr Richard Hewston, principal climate change and environment analyst at VM.

“The UK’s population is less sensitive to climate impacts, due to good access to healthcare, education and infrastructure, while its government has the technical and financial resources to invest in long-term initiatives to build resilience.”

Glasgow and Edinburgh are among the three cities at lowest risk globally in the index due to good access to public services, robust physical infrastructure and strong leadership. These factors insulate them from the worst impacts of climate change, despite their high populations.

The UK capital is not as well protected, although still categorised as low risk.

“The physical impacts of climate change are projected to be less severe in Edinburgh and Glasgow, compared with London,” said environmental analyst Niall Smith.

“Heatwaves and drought conditions are expected to worsen to a greater extent in London, further exacerbating high levels of water stress.

“In contrast, water stress does not pose a significant threat in Glasgow or Edinburgh.”

The city at greatest threat worldwide is Jakarta in Indonesia.