The organizers of the national forum Cities’ Climate Ambitions, the international organization 350.org — Ukraine and the NGO Working Group for Climate Change (Ukrainian Climate Network) have held a press conference in Kyiv dedicated to cities’ adaptation to new climate conditions, with the support of Heinrich Boell Foundation Kyiv Office — Ukraine.
Dozens of journalists from the most prominent national media have attended, which serves as the best proof of the urgency of this subject.
In Ukraine, the rate of atmospheric warming is almost three times the global rate, says head of the applied meteorology and climate science department of the Ukrainian Hydrometeorology Institute Vira Balabukh, PhD. Besides, she explains, big cities have their own microclimate, which means they are highly susceptible to climate change.
Big concrete territories heat up so much that the air temperature in the summer can be 1–12ºC higher than in the suburbs. Droughts have become longer, lasting up to 2–3 months. Rains, conversely, have become less frequent but much more intense. The nature of rainfall has changed, becoming almost “tropical,” when the rainfall that would otherwise take several months happens in a very short period. Of course, no drains can handle this.
At the same time, according to representative of 350.org — Ukraine Inna Datsiuk, regular Ukrainians do not see any connection between climate change and weather irregularities which already significantly affect our lives. If now they only bring financial losses and discomfort for the citizens, in a few years, given the current global heating rate, weather abnormalities will be accompanied by casualties. City mayors who think about the future need to develop adaptation programs immediately and implement them right away. According to the UN, every dollar put into adaptation programs will later save USD 6 of potential losses.
“We need to understand that there are no universal solutions. In different regions of Ukraine, there are different changes. While the East and the South are at risk of turning into deserts, certain areas of Western Ukraine can suffer from excessive humidity. We need to consider landscape peculiarities and local environmental issues, which will only become more acute as climate change progresses. That’s why every city needs to assess its vulnerability and create its adaptation plan based on that,” says head of the Ukrainian Climate Network Illia Yeremenko.
A true challenge for all cities is what to do with rainwater. Since most cities are covered by asphalt and sewers cannot handle the load, there is nowhere for the water to go.
In this context, it is important to “decentralize the sewage,” according to Semen Polomanyi, landscape architect and founder of Zemlia architecture studio. It is necessary to act locally and to have water purified right on site before it gets to local rivers.
Head of Voice of Nature CSO Yevhen Kolishevskyi has shared the experience of Kamianske, which is currently the only city in Ukraine where the assessment of vulnerability to climate change and an adaptation action plan have been developed at the initiative of social activists, with the participation of experts on meteorology, public officials and designated local authority departments.
Photos by Olena Angelova