CityLab: ‘Climate Gentrification’ will deepen urban inequality

CityLab, July 5, 2018: ‘Climate Gentrification’ will deepen urban inequality

 

It’s no surprise that a list of places most at risk from climate change and sea-level rise reads like a Who’s Who of global cities, since historically, many great cities have developed near oceans, natural harbors, or other bodies of water. Miami ranks first, New York comes second, and Tokyo, London, Shanghai, and Hong Kong all number among the top 20 at-risk cities in terms of total projected losses.

Cities in the less developed and more rapidly urbanizing parts of the world, such as Ho Chi Minh City and Mumbai, may experience even more substantial losses as a percentage of their total economic output. Looking out to 2050, annual losses from flooding related to climate change and sea-level rise could increase to more than $60 billion a year.

But global climate change poses another risk for cities: accelerated gentrification. That’s according to a new study by Jesse Keenan, Thomas Hill, and Anurag Gumber, all of Harvard University, that focuses on “climate gentrification.” While still emerging and not yet clearly defined, the theory of climate gentrification is based, the authors write, “on a simple proposition: [C]limate change impacts arguably make some property more or less valuable by virtue of its capacity to accommodate a certain density of human settlement and its associated infrastructure.” The implication is that such price volatility “is either a primary or a partial driver of the patterns of urban development that lead to displacement (and sometimes entrenchment) of existing populations consistent with conventional framings of gentrification.”

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