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Urban vulnerability to climate change in Europe – an interactive map book


Cities affected by climate change

Climate change is happening, and is projected to continue, posing serious challenges for cities:
rises in average temperatures, in precipitation irregularities (more intense rainfall, or drought) and in sea levels. These changes are expected to result in more frequent and intense heatwaves, droughts, fires and floods across Europe.

Read more: Urban adaptation to climate change in Europe

A map book

This map book aims to provide a Europe-wide overview of the potential vulnerability of major cities to climate change. The maps pinpoint possible weaknesses or problematic areas.

They present single indicators or variables that indicate certain vulnerabilities of major European cities to climate change, specifically to the climatic threats of heatwaves, water scarcity and droughts, floods and forest fires. Three types of indicators are listed:

  • exposure indicators: these provide information about the level of exposure to climate impacts;
  • sensitivity indicators: these provide information about the susceptibility of cities to such impacts, via population composition, spatial planning or physical conditions;
  • response capacity indicators: these provide information about characteristics that help to reduce or overcome the impacts.




Options to use the maps ...

As a starting point, the indicated vulnerabilities will encourage stakeholders at European, national and city level to explore each situation in further detail, with more and local information. Furthermore, the map book enables cities to locate other cities with similar circumstances, as a starting point for sharing knowledge and experience. It shows clusters and hotspots for which national and European level actors can develop more tailored support. Finally, the map book provides a simple framework for urban vulnerability indicators, and indicates where further information is needed at local level, in order to make more detailed specific assessments.

... while recognising their limitations

The map book cannot provide a full and comprehensive picture, and the following limitations must be taken into account.

  • Uncertainties: the future is uncertain. Climate change projections are based on various scenarios that describe not one but a range of possible futures, based on the best available current knowledge. There is no way of knowing for sure what might transpire or which action to take in order to boost resilience.
  • Limited data availability: the best available Europe-wide data for cities is used in this map book, but coverage in several indicators is still limited. Specific data collection at local level might yield better outcomes in some instances.
    Also, in many cases, data are not yet available for projections on future climate change and demographics, land use and economic change. The assessment is therefore based on current vulnerabilities.
  • Limited number of indicators: due to a lack of Europe-wide data, only a few indicators can be shown in the map book. These indicators are considered to be key for a good understanding of city vulnerability, but additional indicators are needed to describe the vulnerability in full.

Maps per climatic threat
Maps of generic response capacity
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