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The Influence of Drivers and Barriers on Urban Adaptation and Mitigation Plans—An Empirical Analysis of European Cities

Lookup NU author(s): Marta Olazabal, Professor Oliver Heidrich



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Cities are recognised as key players in global adaptation and mitigation efforts because the majority of people live in cities. However, in Europe, which is highly urbanized and one of the most advanced regions in terms of environmental policies, there is considerable diversity in the regional distribution, ambition and scope of climate change responses. This paper explores potential factors contributing to such diversity in 200 large and medium-sized cities across 11 European countries. We statistically investigate institutional, socio-economic, environmental and vulnerability characteristics of cities as potential drivers of or barriers to the development of urban climate change plans. Our results show that factors such as membership of climate networks, population size, GDP per capita and adaptive capacity act as drivers of mitigation and adaptation plans. By contrast, factors such as the unemployment rate, warmer summers, proximity to the coast and projected exposure to future climate impacts act as barriers. We see that, overall, it is predominantly large and prosperous cities that engage in climate planning, while vulnerable cities and those at risk of severe climate impacts in the future are less active. Our analysis suggests that climate change planning in European cities is not proactive, i.e. not significantly influenced by anticipated future impacts. Instead, we found that the current adaptive capacity of a city significantly relates to climate planning. Along with the need to further explore these relations, we see a need for more economic and institutional support for smaller and less resourceful cities and those at high risk from climate change impacts in the future.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Reckien D, Flacke J, Olazabal M, Heidrich O

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: PLoS ONE

Year: 2015

Volume: 10

Issue: 8

Online publication date: 28/08/2015

Acceptance date: 23/07/2015

Date deposited: 02/10/2015

ISSN (electronic): 1932-6203

Publisher: Public Library of Science


DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0135597


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Funder referenceFunder name
EP/H003630/1Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council Fellowship
RE 2927/2-1German Research Foundation
TU0902European Science Foundation