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Cooling the Hottest Cities

As global temperatures increase, the world's dense, heavily paved urban jungles are increasingly being exposed to extreme heat, with their poorer inhabitants facing the greatest risks. Fortunately, the basic components of sustainable urban cooling are well known, and most are affordable.

WASHINGTON, DC – Extreme heat is having its moment in the sun. This year’s headlines have been as relentless as the temperatures: “Spain endures record heatwave,” “Devastating heatwave in South Asia,” “Texas shatters heat record,” “Can you even call deadly heat ‘extreme’ anymore?

This worldwide coverage has called attention to a massive challenge that will only grow in scope and seriousness. Nowhere are cooling measures more urgent than in our cities, where streets, buildings, industries, and vehicles could increase temperatures by a catastrophic 4° Celsius by the end of the century, putting the world’s poorest people at highest risk.

The search for solutions is already underway, but it needs to gather momentum. At last year’s United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), the Cool Coalition, a 120-organization partnership led by the UN Environment Programme and including RMI, released a comprehensive guide to sustainable urban cooling. And in Davos last month, the Cool Coalition and the Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Center launched an online Heat Action Platform that makes it easy for policymakers and planners to identify the solutions most relevant to them.

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