25 May 2022 – Holland College
Climate change and urbanisation
Keynote: Lindsay Bremner
Panel: Luciana Travassos and Hilde Heynen
Climate change results in serious challenges for towns and cities. They suffer from the effects of heat waves and other extreme weather conditions, resulting in higher risks of flooding but also of droughts and water shortages. In cities effects of higher temperatures on average are moreover exacerbated by the so-called heat-island effect: buildings, roads and other infrastructure absorb and re-emit heat to a much larger extent than natural elements (greenery or water bodies), resulting in a significantly higher temperatures within cities than in surrounding areas. This effect is further reinforced by the massive use of air-conditioning, which cools interior air but heats the air outside. Cities are also affected by traffic congestion and the resulting pollution. A modal shift towards public transport and soft mobilities (pedestrian or bicycle-based) is necessary, but is difficult to realize. Cities also tend to generate urban sprawl, thus further affecting the scarcity of open land and natural reserves. In most global cities, there is also a serious problem of inequity, with low-income communities generally inhabiting the land that is most at risk in terms of flooding or landslides.
Whereas climate change thus urges us to transform urbanization patterns in the Global North towards denser, greener, collective transport-based and more affordable versions of themselves, many cities in the Global South are facing also other challenges, such as poverty, insecurity and population growth.
In this public LIAS evening, Professor Lindsay Bremner (Westminster University, UK), will discuss the role of cities in times of climate change with a focus on urban planning and urban policies. LIAS fellows Luciana Travassos (Federal University of ABC, São Paulo, Brazil) and Hilde Heynen (KU Leuven) will respond. Afterwards Hilde Heynen will moderate the public discussion.
A healthy public debate about important societal challenges requires a common and scientifically sound basis.