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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Vulnerable to be hit hardest by future temperature shift

The Bishop for the Environment has expressed concern for society’s poorest and most vulnerable after a recent study indicated that more than three-quarters of the world’s major cities will experience a striking change in climate conditions by 2050 compared with today.

An evaluation of the world’s 520 major cities by the Crowther Lab found that more than a fifth (22 per cent), including Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, will experience unprecedented conditions that major conurbations have not seen before.

London’s climate in 2050 will be more similar to Barcelona’s current conditions, while Edinburgh’s will be more like Paris is now. Cardiff’s climate will be more similar to Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay, it suggested.

The researchers said that pairing up cities in this way can help people visualise the impact of climate change in their own lives.

For example, London could face the kind of extreme drought conditions that hit Barcelona in 2008, with severe implications for the Spanish city’s population and major economic costs from importing £20 million of drinking water.

The research projects what the 520 current cities’ climate will most closely resemble by 2050, under an ‘optimistic’ scenario where action is taken to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

Describing the study as “yet another worrying report”, the Bishop of Salford, John Arnold, who is the lead bishop on environmental issues for the Catholic Church in England and Wales, said it “highlights the urgent global action necessary which Pope Francis urges us to take if we are to avoid the worst effects of climate change, especially for the most vulnerable”.

“The picture of how climate change will affect us in the UK is clear and our planning for this must put the poorest and most vulnerable at the centre of our thinking,” he told The Catholic Universe. “We must ensure the effects of climate change do not reinforce inequalities, but seek to also address them in our actions.”

The study, published in the journal PLOS One, suggests summers and winters in Europe will get warmer, with average increases of 3.5C and 4.7C respectively – equivalent to a city shifting 1,000km (620 miles) south.

Award-winning writer and producer Mary Colwell said the recent predictions for the temperatures in cities in a few years time are a “further reminder that climate change is real and is happening now”.

“These city comparisons are useful because they help us gauge what life will be like in the future, but it is important to remember it isn’t just about feeling warmer in the summer,” she told The Catholic Universe.

“There are many knock-on effects for both human and non-human life. It isn’t possible to shift around the temperature zones without causing disruption.

“And it is worth remembering that it will the poor, old, young and sick that will be most affected by increasing temperatures, lack of water, crops failure and spread of disease.

“I hope we all take responsibility for this and not just hope someone else will sort it out,” she added.

Picture: London’s climate will be closer to that of Barcelona by 2050. (Yui Mok/PA).