Climate change: The cities you won't want to live in by 2040

If your plan to avoid the worst effects of climate change is to up sticks and move, cross Bangkok, Melbourne and Amsterdam off your destination list right now.

They're amongst the cities most likely to be hit hard by rising temperatures in the next two decades, according to a new analysis.

Researchers looked at not just rising temperatures, but what kind of climate changes 85 cities around the world will undergo in the next 20 years under a 'business as usual' scenario, in which greenhouse emissions continue to rise at present rates. 

Categories looked at include temperature, sea-level and water stress - the gap between supply and demand for freshwater. Once each city's figures had been worked out, the city with the biggest change was scored at 100, with the other 84 cities graded to match. 

Melbourne - a popular destination for expat Kiwis - topped the list for increased water stress, with demand expected to rise to double the supply by 2040. Santiago, Chile and Istanbul, Turkey will also go increasingly thirsty compared to today.

Doha in Qatar, Denver, United States and Barcelona, Spain - the three driest cities in 2020 - will still be the driest in the world by 2040, but we already expect them to be dry, and they can't get much drier.

The biggest change in temperatures will be recorded in Ljubljana, Slovenia (up 3.53C), followed by North American cities Cincinnati, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Chicago, Montreal, Nashville and Ottawa (all up more than 3C), as well as Jerusalem in Israel, Stockholm in Sweden and Hungary's Budapest. 

The biggest shifts in climate type will be experienced in Nairobi, Kenya (from 'temperate humid warm summer' to 'tropical savanna wet summer'), Seoul in South Korea, Chicago in the US, Toronto in Canada and Beijing, China. 

Taking all the measures into account however, the biggest impacts will be felt in Bangkok, the researchers say, largely thanks to extreme sea-level rises. Analysis by Climate Central last year found a typical once-a-year flood, by 2050, will be high enough to submerge most of the city, which has a population of 8.3 million. 

Bangkok. Photo credit: Getty

Coming in second is nearby Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, followed by the Netherlands' Amsterdam, China's Shenzhen, Melbourne, Cardiff in Wales, Seoul, Boston in the US, Nairobi and Morocco's Marrakesh.

Other cities at threat of rising sea levels are Amsterdam, Ho Chi Minh City, Cardiff, New Orleans in the US, Manila in the Philippines and even the inland London, UK. 

"The 'business as usual' scenario used for the climate shift predictions in this study do not illustrate the worst case scenario, nor the best case scenario, but a realistic middle-point," said Ömer Kücükdere, CEO of accommodation website Nestpick - kind of like Airbnb, but for long-term rentals - which commissioned the research. 

"Consider Australia's ongoing wildfire crisis - a 2008 report commissioned by the Australian government warned that this was an inevitability and yet those in power continue to dispute the effects of climate change. Our hope is that this index can increase awareness and further the conversation about how we are globally going to tackle the impacts of climate change."

Where Auckland ranks

Auckland ranked 49th out of the 85 cities for temperature change (up 1.91C); 40th for climate shift (going from 'temperate humid cold summer' to 'temperate humid, warm summer); and 27th for sea-level rise impact. 

Water stress in the City of Sails was virtually unchanged - there's plenty to go around, and still will be in 2040, so consider staying put. 

"Millennials, Gen Z-ers and those even younger will increasingly need to keep climate change in mind when searching for the city they would like to eventually settle in," said Kücükdere.

There have been various attempts to calculate the effects climate change will have over the next century. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says while different parts of the world will experience varying rises, the evidence suggests an average 1m rise by the end of this century

But it also notes in the past when temperatures have been 2C higher than now, the seas have been about 5m higher - perhaps the result of runaway feedback effects scientists are yet to fully understand. 

Other studies have thrown out numbers as high as 16m and 25m in the longer-term.