Ranking reveals top cities able to withstand climate change

[Image: Jonathan Ford/Unsplash]

Amsterdam, Birmingham and Gothenburg are three of the top ten European cities in terms of their resilience to the effects of climate change.

CBRE has ranked 42 European cities according to their resilience in its European City Sustainability Study 2024. The study considered factors such as transition risk, building performance standards and level of air pollution, future flood risks and ability to implement renewable energy.

The other cities in the top 10 include Helsinki, London, Manchester, Oslo, Paris, Rotterdam and Stockholm.

CBRE pointed out that one key finding was that real estate exposure to climate risk varies significantly across Europe, as does the challenge to decarbonise the built environment.

The study looked at each city under three main categories: transition risks which include risks to business associated with societal and economic shifts towards a lower-carbon future; physical climate risk, revealing a particular city’s vulnerability to climate change; and thirdly mitigation and adaptation measures, which describe the city’s ability to implement recommended environmental initiatives to limit climate change.

“By improving the understanding of Europe’s key cities in terms of climate readiness, we hope to galvanise not only the property industry and investors, but also broader stakeholders, to take note of the need to prepare against the worst effects of climate change,” said Dragana Marina, CBRE sustainability research lead, continental Europe, CBRE. “While many cities may regard themselves as being leaders, this survey holds some surprises and warns against complacency.”

Markets demonstrating greater resilience will  increasingly attract investment according to CBRE head of ESG and sustainability services Ludovic Chambe. “However, as investors embrace tools to better assess market level climate risk, it is important to remember that opportunities are abundant beyond the most resilient markets. With the right due diligence, less climate-resilient markets can provide rich opportunities for value-add investment in assets on the journey to net zero and adapting to physical hazards.” 

The ten most resilient cities have a number of factors in common according to CBRE which may provide a roadmap for others.

The study cites examples: In terms of transition risk, over half have city level net zero carbon targets earlier than 2050. In terms of physical climate risk most have lower historic damages from climatic hazards than the sample average and a low future flood risk assessment. In terms of mitigation and adaptation measures all have increased use of renewable energy over the past five years.

“Under our analysis, markets that set more ambitious targets and introduce environmental regulation are more resilient to climate risks,” said Marina. Likewise, markets at threat from physical risks, which have invested in defence systems and adaptation early are more resilient. In terms of mitigating climate change, the generation of renewable electricity and use for building heating is one of the most significant steps a market can make. This provides lessons for markets hoping to become more resilient to climate risks where there remains a huge opportunity to make an impact.”