Press Release

At COP21: New Resilience “Toolkit” Guides Cities Facing Rising Temperatures, Deadly Heat Waves

NRDC former president says toolkit can help “protect those who are most vulnerable” from climate impacts

PARIS (December 8, 2015)—Cities plagued by dangerous heat waves and soaring temperatures will be able to better protect their most vulnerable citizens with a new climate resilience toolkit released today at the Paris climate negotiations. The Natural Resources Defense Council, the Climate & Development Knowledge Network and partners released a “City Resilience Toolkit: Response to Deadly Heat Waves and Preparing for Rising Temperatures” to support adoption of urban heat solutions in cities around the world.

“This City Resilience Toolkit acts as a step-by-step playbook to guide development of local and regional early warning systems and heat preparedness plans,” explained Frances Beinecke, Yale McCluskey Fellow and former NRDC president. “We hope city leaders utilize this resource to take climate action to protect those who are most vulnerable to global warming’s devastating impacts.”

The materials, released today in a panel discussion at the climate talks, are based on the Indian city of Ahmedabad’s pioneering “heat action plan,” which became India’s first early warning system and preparedness plan for extreme heat in 2013, as well as international experiences and best practices.

The Ahmedabad heat action plan helps its residents adapt to increasingly deadly heat through interventions that warn vulnerable groups and protect health during heat waves. The Plan was put to the test and proved effective during one of the worst heat waves in history that hit India in May 2015. Some of the successful interventions include raising awareness and outreach to vulnerable communities, increasing health care capacity to recognize and treat heat illness, and coordinated early heat alerts issued by the local government.

“Climate strategies like this resilience toolkit that integrates mitigation, adaptation and development policies are critical to successful climate compatible development,” said Sam Bickersteth, CEO of CDKN. “By incorporating both disaster management and urban planning interventions like rooftop solar panels, cool roofs, green building infrastructure and tree planting, cities can minimize the deadly threats of rising temperatures and other climate impacts and actually thrive over the long term.”

The Ahmedabad model is now growing in cities across India, including Nagpur, Surat, and Bhubaneswar, increasing exponentially the number of people protected from dangerous temperatures. Communities across the world are increasingly experiencing the devastating impacts of climate change – from droughts and heat waves to superstorms and flooding – and are working toward urban resilience solutions through clean energy and similar preparedness plans.

“We’re seeing sweltering temperatures like those experienced in India during the May heat wave that exceed what the human body can cope with and adapt to,” said Dr. Kim Knowlton, senior scientist at NRDC. “Climate change is already making heat waves even more frequent and severe. That’s why municipal early warning systems and preparation plans like Ahmedabad’s are so important to protect health and save lives during heat waves.”

The "City Resilience Toolkit: Response to Deadly Heat Waves and Preparing for Rising Temperatures" is available at: http://www.nrdc.org/international/india/extreme-heat-preparedness/files/ahmedabad-resilience-toolkit.pdf

Ahmedabad’s Heat Action Plan and other resources are available at: http://www.nrdc.org/international/india/extreme-heat-preparedness/

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