The Asean Post
Extreme heat is having its moment in the sun. This year’s headlines have been as relentless as the temperatures: “Spain endures record heatwave,” “Devastating heatwave in South Asia,” “Texas shatters heat record,”
“Can you even call deadly heat ‘extreme’ anymore?”
This worldwide coverage has called attention to a massive challenge that will only grow in scope and seriousness. Nowhere are cooling measures more urgent than in our cities, where streets, buildings, industries, and vehicles could increase temperatures by a catastrophic 4° Celsius by the end of the century, putting the world’s poorest people at highest risk.
The search for solutions is already underway, but it needs to gather momentum. At last year’s United Nations (UN) Climate Change Conference (COP26), the Cool Coalition, a 120-organization partnership led by the UN Environment Programme and including RMI, released a comprehensive guide to sustainable urban cooling.
And in Davos last month, the Cool Coalition and the Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Center launched an online Heat Action Platform that makes it easy for policymakers and planners to identify the solutions most relevant to them.
To stay ahead of the problem, municipal leaders will need to embrace many measures, including smarter urban design. To draw cool air through a city, planners and developers can orient streets and building heights with the prevailing winds and develop more strategically placed green and blue spaces.
They can also create more shaded commuter corridors for pedestrians and cyclists, and plan more diverse, mixed-use developments that lend themselves to efficient district cooling systems (and less heat-emitting car traffic).