01/30/2020 09:59 EST | Updated 01/31/2020 10:52 EST

Toronto Among World's Top Cities To Feel Climate Change The Hardest

The city's winters will be more warm and rainy by 2050, a new study suggests.

Brady Baker/Getty Images
The Toronto skyline is seen here during the winter with melting ice covering Lake Ontario. Research suggests future winters will be warmer and more rainy in Canada's largest city. 

TORONTO — Less than a decade ago, Sarah Lazarovic was never certain the summer warmth would carry through to her daughter’s late September birthday. 

But now, as Toronto’s temperatures rise, it’s practically a given they will celebrate at the park. Lazarovic can also expect to fire up the barbecue for her husband’s October birthday. 

When Lazarovic first left Florida and its hot and rainy climate nearly 20 years ago, she was acutely aware of Toronto’s seasonality. Since around 2012, she’s tracked the weather and her observations in a diary, and can see a pattern: winters are getting warmer and less snowy, and the seasons bleed into one another. 

“It’s a way to see what’s happening around us,” Lazarovic told HuffPost Canada. 

Climate change weighs on her. “I try to be optimistic and realistic. I tell my kids we are doing the best we can,” she said. “So many parts of our lives are going to change.”

Sarah Lazarovic/Supplied
Toronto resident Sarah Lazarovic says she's noticed the city has gotten warmer since she moved there almost 20 years ago.

The data backs her up.  

Out of 85 major cities around the world, Toronto is projected to experience the fourth largest climate shift by 2050 if nothing is done to curb global carbon emissions, according to a new study by Nestpick, based in Berlin. The apartment rental platform used research methodologies and reports from established climate change experts to compare the cities’ climates, average temperature, sea-level changes and water stress. 

Toronto’s average temperature is expected to rise 3 C compared to that metric 1970 to 2000. As a result, the city’s climate will change from “continental” to “temperate,” meaning winters will be warmer and rainy, the research suggests. 

Ottawa and Montreal ranked 15th and 16th in terms of how much their climates will shift, and both could see a temperature change of more than 3 C, the study said. 

Calgary will see less change in its climate, with a 2.14 C temperature increase by 2050 and continued warm summers and cold winters. 

Watch: Arctic is the warmest it’s been in 10,000 years. Story continues below.


Globally, Nairobi is expected to experience the most significant climate shift, followed by Seoul and Chicago.  

“Over 70 per cent of cities are dealing with the effects of climate change, and yet 75 per cent of global carbon emissions are caused by cities,” said Nestpick CEO Ömer Kücükdere in a statement. 

“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. Governments need to be aware of potential changes coming so that they can mitigate damage.”

The study predicts the climates least likely to change in its index will be in cities such as Singapore, Sydney, Rio de Janeiro and Phnom Penh, Cambodia. 

The study also ranked cities based on the potential impact of rising sea levels and flooding, with Bangkok topping the list, followed by Amsterdam.

Gideon Mendel/Getty Images
Bangkok residents look down at a flooded street where boats have become the main mode of transport in 2012.

In terms of water shortages, Melbourne, Australia is forecasted to be most impacted, followed by Santiago, Chile. Interestingly, Toronto is among the 72 cities that are not projected to see changes in water supply and demand.

The study considered cities that are among the top destinations in the world for millenials and Gen Z and had data available from existing climate change studies. Venice, for example will be greatly affected by climate change, but wasn’t included because of a lack of data, the study noted.

The index did not take into account current actions to ease the impacts of climate change, and is based on the prediction that average global temperatures will increase by 2.6 to 4.8 C by 2100. 

Lazarovic has made changes in her life to cope with eco-anxiety, and to be part of a larger push for climate action: she left her job as a creative director to work for an environmental organization focused on market incentives like carbon tax. 

She started a weekly newsletter about a year ago that helps her stay calm and process climate news, while inspiring readers to think about what they can do to create change. 

“People say we need huge systemic change, and we do, but we also need to make small changes everyday just to give us hope,” Lazarovic said.