Training for local politicians on climate adaptation #2
As part of the EU Urban Agenda partnership on climate adaptation, EUROCITIES invited climate expert Jean-Marc Jancovici to train local politicians and provide them with a with a bold and engaging perspective on the causes and consequences of the climate crisis. He emphasised the irreversible nature of climate change and the urgent need to take appropriate action to prevent or minimise the damage that urban areas will have to face.
Looking back through history from the sharpened perspective of an engineering consultant, Jancovici spelled out the process from which cities have emerged: the industrial revolution brought humankind abundant energy, leading to an increase in agricultural production and therefore a small labour force required in the agricultural sector. This process led to the development of large cities. However, the flipside was the exponential growth of emissions coming from energy use, impacting climate and the environment on a global scale.
Becoming climate neutral is the most tremendous transformation that cities have to face. To keep global warming at a 2°C scenario is still possible, but would entail a drastic and very quick global GHG emissions cut. However, even if we bring our emissions to zero, we are still going to be experiencing the extreme events caused by global warming for at least 20 years. The environmental, economic and social aspects of this transition are closely interconnected, meaning that our approach to climate adaptation must be based on systemic solutions. Adapting cities involves a paradigm shift from an energy abundant world to another model that integrates all the externalities caused by energy consumption. Environmental effects need to be integrated inside the market mechanisms and be compensated.
Jancovici stressed the urgent need for decision makers to make choices which take into account all aspects of the transition, and that allow all stakeholders and actors to have a say in the process.
Cities are best placed to trigger this process, and this is what the City of Copenhagen did in 2010, by co-designing with local actors a comprehensive climate adaptation plan. Janus Christoffersen, head of division at the Centre for Climate Adaptation, shared insights on how the process started with the Cloudburst Management Plan, and how adaptation gained political and public support.
In conclusion, Elena Višnar Malinovská, Head of Unit for Adaptation in DG Climate Action in the EU Commission, shared the need to accelerate climate adaptation actions, going beyond awareness raising and investing more on scaling up solutions that work at the local level. Some of the priorities of the European Commission in the next period will go in this direction, promoting re-vegetalisation, nature-based solutions and climate proofing of buildings.
Take away message
The climate changes we are experiencing are going to be more severe, and extreme weather events more frequent. This workshop presented scientific evidence on the urgency of adopting local adaptation measures. The example of Copenhagen demonstrated three key success factors for an adaptation plan: gain political and public support; have a strong business case demonstrating economic value; and have a holistic vision of the development of cities including mechanisms for continuous reshaping of the plan to face evolving adaptation needs.
- Pictures of the session
- The Covenant of Mayors is the world's largest movement for local climate and energy action
- More information on EU, national and local policy context and actions is in the Climate Adapt portal
- EEA report: Urban adaptation to climate change in Europe 2016
- Are you a city and want to develop an adaptation plan? Check out the Urban Adaptation Support Tool
"The heatwaves, droughts and floods we experienced last summer are just the beginning of what will happen in the next 20 years. Our finger is on the trigger today, and the choices cities are making will determine their future and their capacity to adapt to climate changes." Jean-Marc Jancovici