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US Cities Most at Risk Because of Climate Change Are Least Energy-efficient, Data Indicate

FILE - A home inspector checks air-conditioning coils at a home in the Kendall suburb of Miami.

Miami and other U.S. cities most at risk from disasters exacerbated by global warming are also among those whose high energy consumption is fueling temperature rise, data from clean-energy company Arcadia Power showed Tuesday.

Miami, battered last year by Hurricane Irma, was the least energy-efficient in a sample of 15 cities, with its monthly energy consumption 25 percent above the national average, the data showed.

Such cities are "shooting themselves in the foot" because their immoderate energy consumption emits avoidable greenhouse gases that are heating up the planet and causing climate change, said a statement from Arcadia.

The Florida city averaged energy consumption per household of 1,125 kilowatt hours (kWh) per month, far exceeding the 2016 national average of 897 kWh.

Miami's above-normal usage could be due to the heavy reliance on energy-intensive air conditioning in the hot and human region, said Arcadia spokeswoman Natalie Rizk.

Burning fossil fuels, including to generate electricity, is one of the lead causes of climate change, which many scientists say will make freak weather such as Irma more powerful.

Miami's vulnerability to the destructive force of wild weather was shown last September when large swaths of the city were flooded as Irma barreled into South Florida.

Others at risk

Atlanta and Phoenix are other cities experts often describe as the country's most vulnerable to extreme weather made worse by climate change, and whose energy consumption far surpassed the national average, according to Arcadia's data.

Arcadia's ranking was based on the electricity consumption of its customers, who number 70,000 nationwide.

Though the company's customers are renewable-energy users, its data most likely approximated behavior by households dependent on fossil fuel-generated energy, Arcadia said.

Johanna Partin, director of the Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance, said the findings should serve as a "wake-up call," pushing city officials to adopt more stringent energy-saving measures.

"Even if they're doing a great job ... on installing energy efficiency, they're going to have to do a lot more of that," she said by phone from San Francisco.

Improving energy efficiency is touted by supporters of the 2015 Paris Agreement to tackle climate change as a key way to meet the pact's tough goals to limit global temperature rise.