Climate Change: A Challenge We Face Globally and Locally

Date: 15.05.2024
May 15th is World Climate Change Day, a day to acknowledge the significant challenge facing our planet. Climate change impacts us not only globally, with increased extreme weather events and rising sea levels, but also locally, in the form of urban heat islands.

Heat islands are urban areas that are significantly warmer than surrounding areas due to dense development and concrete surfaces. This can lead to several issues:

Heatwaves: Heat islands exacerbate heatwaves, which can be deadly, especially for the elderly and vulnerable populations.

Reduced Air Quality: Heat and air pollution combine in heat islands to create smog, harming respiratory health.

Increased Energy Use: More energy is required to cool buildings in heat islands, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions and further climate change.

Fortunately, there are nature-based solutions to mitigate heat islands:

• Urban Greening: Trees and other vegetation provide shade and cool the air through evaporation. Planting trees in cities is a simple and effective way to reduce heat islands.

• Green Roofs: Green roofs are rooftops covered in vegetation, which absorb heat and cool the air. They can also improve insulation and reduce stormwater runoff.

• Using Light-Colored Materials: Dark colors absorb heat, while light colors reflect it. Using light-colored materials for buildings and roads can help reduce heat islands.

• Building Design: Buildings can be designed to allow for natural ventilation and shading, reducing the need for artificial cooling.

Addressing heat islands is essential for cooling down cities and ensuring a healthy and comfortable living environment for residents. By implementing nature-based solutions, we can lessen the impact of heat islands and contribute to addressing the challenge of climate change. A step towards addressing heat islands will be also done in MISSION CE CLIMATE project. In Maribor we will will identify bus stops where nature-based solutions could be implemented, and in this way help reducing the effect of the heat islands at selected locations.

In addition to these solutions, education and awareness raising among citizens and different stakeholders is crucial. On May 14. 2024 the Municipality of Maribor organised a lecture for stakeholders and municipal official on topic Heatwave stress in an urban environment. More than 40 people followed the lecture.

All these measures will contribute to a greener and more sustainable future for our cities. Together, we can create a healthier and more resilient future for our communities and the planet.