Bucharest and climate change
Edited by: Vanesa Manolachi
Climate Change in Urban Areas
Climate change is felt to a high degree in inner cities where temperatures are usually higher. Winter phenomena are considerably less, and torrential rains are more frequent. The wind regime is profoundly modified by the architecture of the buildings. Cities are considered culpable for the occurrence of these climate changes, one of the reasons being greenhouse gas emissions.
The heat island
The heat island is a climate change that is ubiquitous in cities. It refers to the existence of a positive temperature difference between the built-up areas of the city and those in the peri-urban area. Cities have a lot of heat sources inside them, and this leads to higher temperatures compared to the surroundings.
The consequences of the heat island are much more easily observed at the urban level. During the warm season, the urban heat island produces larger amounts of liquid precipitation in central areas. And in the cold season, snow showers are more frequent in the outskirts.
Climate Change Situation in the City of Bucharest
The city of Bucharest presents a high risk to climate change. Unfortunately, climate developments are associated with a limited intervention capacity of institutions and the population. The main risks are an increase in the average annual temperature, a decrease in precipitation and an increase in extreme weather events.
The city of Bucharest faces several types of sensitivity. This represents the extent to which a system/its components can be affected as a result of the impact of exposure to the stressor on it. Physical sensitivity refers to human-made buildings and infrastructures that are vulnerable to flash floods produced by large amounts of rainfall. Economic sensitivity refers to economic activities that have a high dependence on climate phenomena. Also, the sensitivity of the environment is high as Bucharest is located in an area with a high risk of extreme climatic phenomena.
The increase in air temperature, changes in the precipitation regime, the occurrence of an increasing number of extreme climatic events will affect the functionality of the city. Increased risk of pathogens and disease vectors specific to tropical areas may occur. Due to exposure to heat and water stress, trees and shrubs in green spaces can be affected. It can increase the risk that water resources and other resources necessary for the optimal functioning of the city will be temporarily depleted.
In order to avoid such scenarios, the involvement of several actors is needed: citizens, NGOs, public institutions, other interested parties. Responsible authorities/tenant associations should improve the quality of green spaces by introducing grass and shrub cover. This measure can be carried out in the area of street alignments, block gardens or to create a green belt of the city.
Greater attention should be paid to vulnerable and marginalized people during periods of extreme climate events. Therefore, the development of the emergency social assistance system is necessary in these cases. Also, informing citizens about the recorded values and the consequences of exposure to them is necessary.
Public institutions can improve their administrative capacity with responsibilities at the Bucharest level in the management of emergency situations. Support must also be provided to public authorities for the development and management of infrastructure relevant to the management of extreme situations.
The impact of Civil Society in the Bucharest Neighborhoods
Considering the magnitude of the problem, many entities are looking to solve it or at least ameliorate it in the short to medium term. There are different associations, NGOs that have taken the initiative and developed different projects, initiated actions to inform/involve the population.
„Grupul de inițiativă Civică Cișmigiu” gathered the community of neighbors and take care of the green spaces in the Cișmigi area. It also educates interested citizens about urban biodiversity, within the project „Grădina cu oameni”.
„Asociația Încotroceni” monitor the trees missing from the neighborhood’s street alignments and volunteer to plant them.
„Greenpeace România” frequently conducts awareness and advocacy campaigns on green barrier topics. They also repeatedly addressed the lack of Bucharest’s green belt.
„Fridays for Future România” is a group campaigning for systemic change to prevent a future climate cataclysm. They organized protests and information and advocacy campaigns.
„Angajament pentru climă” is a project of the Terra Mileniul III Foundation to inform and educate citizens and young people. The main themes are related to monitoring public policies in the field and advocacy for combating the causes and effects of climate change.
Center for Sustainable Policies Ecopolis it also collects information about temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure and wind speed. They can be integrated into the national environmental quality monitoring network. They can also provide important data for several areas in the city.
In conclusion, climate change is among the biggest uncertainties that cities must manage. We must act now and in an effective way because it is easier to make the current situation worse than to improve it. It requires the involvement of all actors and their cooperation.