- Documents and publications
Rethinking urban heat stress: Assessing risk and adaptation options across socioeconomic groups in Bonn, Germany
With climate change and socioeconomic trends expected to exacerbate the risk of urban heat stress, implementing adaptation measures is paramount to limit the adverse impacts of heat on urban inhabitants. Identification of the best options needs to be based on sound, localised assessments of risk, understood as the interaction of hazard, exposure and vulnerability. Yet a review of the literature reveals that minimal research to date considers the perceived impacts of heat among urban residents.
Based on a household survey in Bonn, Germany, this paper adopts an integrated approach to assess how different socioeconomic groups are affected by heat stress and explores the connections between perceived impacts of heat and indicators of exposure and vulnerability across groups.
Results indicate that all socioeconomic groups are at risk of urban heat stress, though to differing extents and for different reasons. Exposure was found to be lowest in groups typically considered to be of higher risk, such as older respondents, who at the same time have the highest susceptibility. Students and other younger respondents, on the other hand, face comparably high exposure and have the lowest coping and adaptive capacities. At the same time, each group has its own capacities with the potential to mitigate risk.
The study shows that urban inhabitants beyond “classic risk groups” usually addressed in literature and policy are affected by heat stress in ways that may not be accounted for in the current urban policy.