Climate, cities increasingly affected: the Italian case, the Recovery Plan and Joe Biden

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Cities are increasingly affected by climate change — around the world — despite the epidemic, the health emergency and lockdowns.

Just look at the latest data coming from Italy, where almost a thousand extreme weather phenomena have been detected in the last 10 years in over 500 municipalities: the trend of “frequent and intense” events is constantly growing. This is said by Legambiente’s “CittàClima” Observatory in the report just published, which deals with climate adaptation in the urban environment through the map of 10 years of impacts on the territory and which contains a warning starting from the title: “The climate has already changed”. The document was presented at a dedicated conference, part of 7 thematic meetings organized by the association to identify the best proposals related to the National Recovery and Resilience Plan to be presented by the Italian Government in Europe by April 2021.

Ten years of extreme events

Since 2010 alone in Italy there have been over 400 flooding caused by heavy rains, which have resulted in 347 interruptions and damage to infrastructure with 80 days of stop to subways and urban trains, 14 cases of damage to the historical and archaeological heritage, 39 episodes of damage caused by long periods of drought and extreme temperatures, 257 events with damage due to whirlwinds, 35 landslides and 118 events from river flooding. There are 252 deaths caused by these events, 42 of which relate to 2019, up from 32 the previous year; 50,000 people were evacuated as a result of landslides and floods, in this case according to the findings of the National Research Council (CNR).

In the current year alone, from the beginning of 2020 to the end of October, there were 86 flooding due to heavy rains and 72 cases of whirlwinds, a sharp increase compared to 54 episodes in the whole of 2019 and 41 recorded in 2018. In recent months, there have also been 15 river flooding, 13 cases of damage to infrastructure, 12 episodes of prolonged drought damage and 9 landslides. The dossier points out that there is an increase in extreme events which also affect two or more categories at the same time and that the episodes tend to recur in the same municipalities where they had already occurred in the past.

The worst affected cities

They are Rome, Bari, Agrigento and Milan. Under the magnifying glass of the map “CittàClima” there are the urbanized areas of the Peninsula, the most populous and often lacking proper territorial planning, as well as the most exposed to the effects of climate change. The situation in the italian capital is resounding: in the last ten years in the Eternal City there have been 47 extreme events, 28 of which involving flooding following heavy rains. Another important case is that of Bari, where there were 41 extreme events, mainly due to flooding from heavy rains (20) and whirlwinds (18). Agrigento then follows, with 31 events related to flooding, damage to infrastructure and damage from whirlwinds. Finally, Milan is also worth mentioning, with 29 events in total and with at least 20 floods of the Seveso and Lambro rivers.

Italy and Europe

Legambiente, an Italian reference point on the environment, in the conclusions of the report proposes to the Conte Government 10 objectives for a bill for the protection of the territory and asks that the European Recovery Plan (Next Generation EU), with its billions on the plate, become an opportunity to address the issue of hydrogeological failure that afflicts the peninsula, as also requested by the WWF. For their part, the young people of Fridays for Future Italia expressed a similar idea, proposing an environmentally friendly Recovery Plan and identifying 7 points to support the ecological transition: renewable sources, energy consumption, sustainable mobility, industrial conversion, adaptation to the climate of the territories, support for public and private research, strengthening of the agroecological model. In addition, the Organization Italy for Climate has presented a list of forty green measures in seven economic sectors to achieve a 55% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

Joe Biden and the United States

If Italy and Europe try to open their eyes to the climate, there seems to be good news overseas. Climate change could be high on the White House agenda, with new President-elect Joe Biden announcing John Kerry’s long-awaited name as the US special envoy for climate. There is therefore every prerequisite for the European Union and the United States to return to collaboration in research, trade and diplomacy of the environment and sustainability.

Photo by Rom Matibag on Unsplash




Journalist & Author, your Correspondent from Italy.

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Francesco Carrubba

Francesco Carrubba

Journalist & Author, your Correspondent from Italy.

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