Felix Creutzig & Blanca Fernandez, Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change, Berlin, Germany

Presentation Title: Urban heat risks, health and equity


Climate change impacts are diverse and highly uncertain, but could possibly impact the livelihoods of large parts of humanity. As Earth transitions to a mostly urban planet, the question of how climate risks impact urban populations becomes more prevalent. A main risk of climate change, global warming, translates into urban heat risks and impacts urban populations.

Provided is a meta-analysis of case studies on urban heat risks and equity, currently under review (Blanca Fernandez and Felix Creutzig). Person-specific, intrinsic factors dominate overall heat risks, but socio-economic characteristics can dominate, particularly in urban contexts. Higher age and to a lesser degree, gender, are the most important demographic variables determining heat-related health risk.

Key Lessons Learned

  • Heat waves negatively affect human health, especially urban populations.
  • Intrinsic (e.g., age, gender, medical status) and extrinsic (e.g., socio-economic status, employment, quantity of green space, building types) factors determine vulnerability to heat waves.
  • Short-term mitigation response measures effectively address intrinsic factors, but these strategies do not exhaustively address extrinsic factors, which then raises issues of equity.
  • Long term mitigation strategies are plausible in addressing equity in terms of socio-economic susceptibility to urban heat waves.


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