Making urban climate risk: what role for urban climatology? — ASN Events

Making urban climate risk: what role for urban climatology? (15635)

Jennifer Salmond 1 , Marc Tadaki 2 , Richard Le Heron 1
  1. University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
  2. Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada

As world populations grow and concentrate in urban areas, the social and biophysical relationships between urban atmospheres and human livelihoods are increasingly being reframed and renegotiated. Even in relatively benign climatic regions, such as those found in New Zealand, urban planners and decision makers are being prompted by policy and resourced by science to take changing climatic considerations into account, creating a new category of ‘urban climate risk’. In this presentation we ask: what do we understand by ‘urban climate risk’? How is it produced and with what effects? Drawing on examples from around New Zealand, the different ways in which the potential threats, and actual damage, from flooding and poor air quality are compared and contrasted, and the utility of ‘urban climate risk’ as a suitable category to describe these different approaches and practices is evaluated. We argue that the specific ways in which urban climate risk is understood, are a product of many things – the disciplinary communities which study them, the investment narratives which fund them, the institutional contexts which effect (or are held accountable to) them. If we view ‘urban climate risk’ as produced by human agents, institutions and rationalities, as well as atmospheres and biophysical processes, how might we rethink the role of scientific practice in reframing the urban climate problem? Can we learn to ‘live with’ rather than tame climatic uncertainty? How might this enable us to move towards new forms of urban resilience and resourcefulness?