In countries facing scorching heat, shade trees and cheap cooling strategies gain traction

In countries facing scorching heat, shade trees and cheap cooling strategies gain traction

E&E News reports:

When the capital of Sierra Leone launched a major campaign to provide shade amid sweltering heat, officials came up with a catchy slogan of what they hoped the city would become: Freetown the Treetown.

The West African city had been denuded by rapid population growth, conflict and unregulated development, increasing its vulnerability to rising temperatures. The tree planting plan uses an app to generate jobs and is helping a fast-urbanizing city fend off the dangers of climate change.

By this summer, Freetown is projected to have added 1 million trees since 2020 — a number nearly equal to its population.

“This is really essential for reducing temperatures,” Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, the mayor of Freetown, said during a global heat summit Thursday.

“It also helps us with landslide prevention, with water catchment protection and with job creation, because every tree is individually tagged, and they are looked after by young people,” Aki-Sawyerr added.

Freetown’s tree-planting is among a host of actions communities around the world are taking to prepare for and respond to record-breaking heat driven by human-caused climate change. Many were on display Thursday at the virtual summit hosted by the United States and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the world’s largest humanitarian organization.

Countries from India to Mexico to the U.S. are increasingly aware of the toll extreme temperatures are having on people’s health, livelihoods and local economies. But each faces its own challenges in responding, including a lack of money, resources or policies to ensure rising demands for energy to cool homes and businesses don’t add to climate-warming emissions. [Continue reading…]

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