South African cities are experiencing climate change through higher temperatures, more heatwaves, and less rainfall according to the MENAFN article. To adapt to climate change effects cities should retrofit or repurpose unused spaces.
Cities worldwide occupy only a small portion of the earth’s total land area, yet they are home to almost have of the global population. Cities are hubs of trade, transportation, commerce, education, skills, and services, consuming three-quarters of total global energy and emits 75% of CO2.
The concentration of population, consumption, and emissions in cities, make them the highest contributors to climate change.
In South Africa and perhaps in other cities, adaptation policies tend to focus on a macro level like large infrastructure, agrarian, and ecosystem-based plans. While these initiatives have their own merits, local and community level adaptation is sometimes overlooked.
For instance, unused or underutilised space in cities like parking lots, pavements, and roofs makes up 67% of a neighbourhood or city area. Building materials for these structures are primarily non-porous and materials that store vast amounts of heat.
These areas are exposed to a lot of sun and rainfall and can be retrofitted to produce food, used for vegetations, harvest solar energy, and absorb rainwater. All of these can alleviate higher temperatures, prevent flooding, which can benefit the community.
Younger cities built in the 20th century were designed around efficiency, dividing or zoning land use according to purpose – for instance, residential or industrial use.
The consequence for zoning is many unused, underutilised and simply left-over spaces – spaces that could be retrofitted or repurposed to adapt to climate change and build resilience for the city, the article says.
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