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Tackling the impact of climate change on cities

Cities offer huge potential to help tackle our climate crisis, we need a holistic approach, connecting health strategies to climate strategies.

10 Nov 20223 minute read

Today, 4.4 billion people, over 50% of the world’s population, live in a city. And this is expected to rise to 70% by 2050. Cities are responsible for 75% of global CO2 emissions, and it’s in cities where the health impacts of climate change are most acutely felt. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 99% of the world's urban population breathe polluted air.

Cities are acutely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Critical infrastructure systems, including for water, energy, transport and healthcare, are not built for extreme climatic conditions and will need to adapt. Most of the world’s major cities are located near large bodies of water, putting them at risk from rising sea levels and flooding.

Reckitt’s birthplace – the city of Hull – is a clear example of the issues at stake. The Humber is the UK's highest CO2 emitting industrial cluster, responsible for 37% of the UK’s CO2 emissions, and is critical to achieving net zero in the UK. Flooding is one of the significant impacts of climate change on the city, with parts of the city under water in 2007. And, like many cities, Hull also faces economic deprivation, with many people there currently experiencing fuel poverty.

What is Reckitt doing about it?

Our research shows that climate change, economic uncertainty and healthcare are three of the most pressing issues for people currently. We know that cities offer huge potential to help tackle our climate crisis, but we need a holistic, people centred approach, connecting health strategies to climate strategies, while decarbonising and building better access to health services.

We’re supporting our hometown of Hull through the Oh Yes! Net Zero programme. Everyone from local to multi-national businesses are working to tackle their CO2 emissions. We're also supporting a local pilot to retrofit air source heat pumps into council housing stock, to drive energy efficiency and lower energy bills for residents.

We recognise the importance of embedding sustainability into every aspect of our business, from our supply chains to our partnerships. We are taking steps to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions in our operations and supply chain. For example, all of our manufacturing sites in the EU and US use 100% renewable power. And all our new product innovations are subject to rigorous stages of sustainability approval.

Healthier cities, healthier lives, on the path to net zero

At COP27, we’re hosting an event exploring the effects of climate change on cities and the health of the people who live in them. It will capture perspectives from city experts to help accelerate progress on UN SDG11 (to make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable). The panel will also explore how a people-centred approach to the net zero transition can drive greater equality in health, wellbeing, and economic opportunity.

Other invited guests will include representatives from the London School of Health and Tropical Medicine, the WHO, C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, the World Bank and more.

More information at:

Hashtag #ohyesnetzero