Story at a glance

  • Rising sea levels from climate change stand to render coastal cities unlivable.
  • Hundreds of thousands of people could be displaced, and damages could cost trillions of dollars.
  • Some vulnerable cities include New York City and Miami.

Effects from anthropomorphic climate change stand to wreak havoc on coastal cities across the world, according to a draft report conducted by the United Nations (U.N.). 

Reviewed by the news outlet Agence France-Presse (AFP), the report says that rising sea levels, caused by the rapid melting of ice caps and the increase in global average temperatures, will displace hundreds of thousands of people.

Specifically, scientists in the report predict that entire cities will be abandoned due to threats from rising sea levels. This includes major urban hubs like New York City, Mumbai, Lagos, Shanghai, Miami, Dhaka and Tokyo.

There will be 300 million people left vulnerable to annual flooding by 2050. Economically insecure and less wealthy populations stand to suffer the most since they have limited resources to relocate and protect themselves. 


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More estimates from the report state that sea levels stand to rise by 2 feet by the end of the century.

Without adaptive infrastructure, the report estimates a total cost of $1.6 trillion to $3.2 trillion in damages for world’s 136 largest coastal cities. 


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The long-term prospects for many coastal cities is dismal without urgent and ambitious emissions cuts, according to the report.

"Difficult choices will need to be made as sea level continues to rise, floods and storm surges become more frequent and intense, warming increases ocean acidity and intensifies heatwaves."

In light of the reports on the draft document, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the agency within the U.N. who helped author the report, released a statement regarding its release. 

"The IPCC is committed to an open, robust and transparent assessment process," the statement reads. "During the review stages, the IPCC actively seeks the collaboration of researchers and practitioners across a broad range of expertise to provide expert comments on the draft reports. As with the normal practice of peer review, this process is designed to ensure that the report is as accurate, comprehensive and objective as possible."

The worldwide goal is to keep global temperatures from rising by 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels. The Paris Agreement aims to put countries on track to keep temperatures low to prevent the effects of climate change. 


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Published on Jun 23, 2021