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Progress and assessment of climate change adaptation and mitigation plans

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Richard DawsonORCiD, Professor Oliver Heidrich


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It is estimated that climate change will affect most of Europe; national adaptation and mitigation plans are published providing a valuable step in managing the likely causes and impacts of climate change. Cities are leaders of innovation, creativity and economic activity, and in response to national strategies may establish practices and programs to tackle climate change. Indeed cities may be the first to demonstrate the benefits and challenges of climate change adaptation and mitigation. This could provide important feedback as their experiences can influence central government and international plans and actions. But what strategies, plans and programmes are provided by cities, how are the mitigation and adaptation processes managed and how can we compare or even rank their plans and performance? This paper presents the findings of an international study that was conducted as part of the COST Action TU0902: “Integrated assessment technologies to support the sustainable development of urban areas”. We report on the status and content of the adaptation and mitigation across Europe using the Covenant of Mayor signatories and their CO2 reduction targets. We present the plans and progress of the 30 UK cities in more detail and provide a method for assessing their performance in adapting and mitigating to climate change. Although most cities seem to recognise that adaptation and mitigation are related, larger emphasis tends to be placed upon mitigation. This is probably to meet national targets, but also mitigation targets are also easier to define and measure; and authorities may also understand better the immediate economic and air quality benefits of reducing energy use. We report what mitigation (e.g. energy savings, heating, transport etc.) and adaptation (e.g. flooding, health etc.) measures have been most frequently mentioned. In particular we identified discrepancies between plans and issues related to mitigation targets and found that cities use different baselines and targets for meeting national and international agreed emission reduction targets. In order to evaluate and rank the plans and performance this paper reports findings from UK cities. From the 30 UK cities, 28 have published plans and in total 307 climate adaptation and mitigation documents were obtained, highlighting the plethora of climate initiatives in this country. It is shown that UK cities of all sizes acknowledge climate change being a threat, although there is large variation in the detail of planning, analysis, targets and timeframes. Furthermore, the degree of implementation varies across the cities. We recognised that adaptation and mitigation efforts can be expressed as four stage management processes and we developed Preparedness Scores for each stage i.e. inventory of risks and/or emissions, planning, action, and monitoring and review. The scores are more informative than a single number as they capture depth, breadth, quality and progress of the plans and their implementation and reviewing process. The assessment is rapid to undertake, easy to visualise, and can help to determine progress that can be utilised by UK and European governments and cities alike.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Walsh L, Dawson R, Heidrich O

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: 1st International Conference for Urban Sustainability & Resilience

Year of Conference: 2012

Notes: Poster Presentation