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NEWS: New tool supports integrated climate planning in cities

C40 Cities has launched a new tool to support planning for climate adaptation and mitigation in cities – and is inviting readers to submit case studies of their city’s actions that successfully integrate both goals.

Tool identifies potential benefits and pitfalls 

The Adaptation and Mitigation Interaction Assessment Tool helps users to identify investments that both avoid or reduce harmful emissions, and also reduce vulnerability to climate impacts. The tool works by guiding users through a questionnaire.

Users select which type of adaptation or mitigation measure they want to take, from a wide range of options, and the tool leads them through a step-wise process to consider the possible outcomes: positive and negative.

The simple process highlights where investments in one area could have unintended consequences in another. For example, what if planners decided to roll out an electric car charging network – using clean energy to mitigate climate change – but they didn’t account for increased flooding in the area? That’s exactly what happened in the city of Rotterdam, Netherlands, in an unfortunate case of mal-investment.

The tool shows where wins can be achieved for adaptation, mitigation and development simultaneously, including how clever design can ‘piggyback’ on existing development plans to achieve more for climate change goals.

For example, if a planner needs to rebuild and elevate roads to avoid coastal flooding – as happened in the city of Larnaca, Cyprus – there is the opportunity to do this in a way that creates more safe space for pedestrians and cyclists, and so encourages non-motorised transport.

The tool also flags where trade-offs may be necessary when making investment choices – because it may not be possible to optimise fully for adaptation and mitigation outcomes, especially in the short term. For instance, when users select ‘Preventing surface saltwater intrusion’ they are cautioned that water pumping by injection wells, one possible option, is energy intensive and can increase greenhouse gas emissions.

Preventing saltwater intrusion – and other adaptation goals – may require planners to navigate different ways to avoid or mitigate emissions while reducing the impacts of climate change. In this case, if pumping is the only option, then long term solutions could involve using renewable energy to power the equipment.

Best practice from cities worldwide

The tool showcases almost 60 case studies of how cities and countries are reducing climate risks and lowering emissions simultaneously. Examples include:

A mangrove restoration scheme in Guyana. This initiative has mitigated climate change by storing and sequestering carbon, while generating revenue for local communities through REDD+ (Reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) schemes. There is some adaptation benefit from the 350 acres of mangrove forests that have been restored: as they reduce the impact of wave energy on the flood-prone shoreline.

A Vehicle Quota System in Singapore. This scheme, which imposes day and time restrictions on personal vehicle use, has been successful in reducing the rate of growth of road transport from 3% per year (before 2009) to 0.25% at present. The system reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and also has climate change adaptation benefits: by reducing the urban heat island effect.

The Cheonggyecheon River restoration project in Seoul, South Korea. This project created a 3 km2 urban park with revitalised waterways, greatly improved pedestrian access and enhanced biodiversity. As a result, walking and use of public transport has increased, air pollution is down, and Seoul’s residents and visitors enjoy an improved quality of life.

A tree planting scheme in Durban, South Africa. This initiative was developed in association with Durban’s hosting the FIFA 2010 World Cup matches: the planting of indigenous tree species was conceived as a way of absorbing event-related greenhouse gas emissions. Unemployed local people were engaged as ‘tree-preneurs’ to nurture seedlings and then transplant them, when ready, into the green spaces demarcated for restoration. Over 20 years, the project will sequester more than 42,000 tons of C02, increase the diversity of tree species in the area from 0 to 51, and create 43 permanent jobs.

Chantal Oudkerk Pool, Head of Adaptation Planning, C40 Cities, said: “Based on cities’ experiences and designed for cities, this is the first tool available that will help policy-makers systemically analyse potential interactions between mitigation and adaptation as they develop their climate action plans. Failing to integrate the two policies could potentially lead not only to mal-investment and conflicts of interest, but also missed opportunities.”

Zandile Gumede, Mayor of Durban, South Africa, added: “In Ethekwini, the adaptation and mitigation staff have closely collaborated for many years and we highly encourage cities to do the same. We participated in the AMIA pilot group to share our stories on integration and to inspire other cities. The library of case studies makes the tool a useful resource to be used by local teams around the globe.”

Submit your own case study of integrated approaches

Now C40 Cities is asking readers to share their own case studies of how adaptation and mitigation investments have been successfully integrated and/or piggybacked on to other ventures. C40 is also looking for approaches taken by planners to avoid mal-investment, or lessons learned from negative experiences, and how to ‘build better’. The database would benefit especially from more case studies from low and medium income countries. Non-C40 Cities are also welcome to contribute.

Find the online form here where readers may upload their case studies. Each one will be verified by C40 before being added to the tool. Please also trial the tool extensively and share your feedback, to inform future versions of the tool.

To share your views and for more information, contact: Chantal Oudkerk Pool, Head of Adaptation Planning, email:


Image: Durban, South Africa, credit Matt Kiefer

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