Open Access BASE2018

How are cities planning to respond to climate change? Assessment of local climate plans from 885 cities in the EU-28


International audience ; The Paris Agreement aims to limit global mean temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. This target has wide-ranging implications for Europe and its cities, which are the source of substantial proportions of greenhouse gas emissions. This paper reports the state of planning for climate change by collecting and analysing local climate mitigation and adaptation plans across 885 urban areas of the EU-28. A typology and analysis framework was developed that classifies local climate plans in terms of their spatial (alignment with local, national and international policy) and sectoral integration (alignment into existing local policy documents). We document local climate plans that we call type A1: non-compulsory by national law and not developed as part of international climate networks; A2: compulsory by national law and not developed as part of international networks; A3: plans developed as part of international networks. This most comprehensive analysis to date reveals that there is large diversity in the availability of local climate plans with most being available in Central and Northern European cities. Approximately 66% of EU cities have an A1, A2, or A3 mitigation plan, 26% an adaptation plan, 17% joint adaptation and mitigation plans, and about 30% lack any form of local climate plan (i.e. what we classify as A1, A2, A3 plans). Mitigation plans are more numerous than adaptation plans, but mitigation does not always precede adaptation. Our analysis reveals that city size, national legislation, and international networks can influence the development of local climate plans. We found that size does matter as about 70% of the cities above 1 million inhabitants have a comprehensive and stand-alone mitigation and/or an adaptation plan (A1 or A2). Countries with national climate legislation (A2), such as Denmark, France, Slovakia and the United Kingdom, are found to have nearly twice as many urban mitigation plans, and five times more likely to produce urban adaptation plans, than countries without such legislation. A1 and A2 mitigation plans are particularly numerous in Denmark, Poland, Germany, and Finland; while A1 and A2 adaptation plans are prevalent in Denmark, Finland, UK and France. The integration of adaptation and mitigation is country-specific and can mainly be observed in countries where local climate plans are compulsory, especially in France and the UK. Finally, local climate plans of international climate networks (A3) are mostly found in the many countries where autonomous, i.e. A1 plans are less common. The findings reported here are of international importance as they will inform and support decision-making and thinking of stakeholders with similar experiences or developments at all levels and sectors in other regions around the world.

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