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Urban climate change adaptation plans are improving but neglect vulnerable people

Urban climate change adaptation plans are improving but neglect vulnerable people
alarmPublication date: 08 March, 2023Category: International News , Investigation

Scientific article co-authored by LNEG published in the journal Nature Urban Sustainability on March 3, 2023

Most local authorities do not sufficiently consider the needs of vulnerable people in planning to deal with climate change, according to a study of more than 300 European cities.

This research, developed by a group of European scientists including LNEG and published in the journal Nature Urban Sustainability, focused on the evolution of the quality of adaptation plans in European cities. More and more European cities are preparing to deal with the challenge of climate change by developing local adaptation plans. Since 2005, there have been urban adaptation plans and an increasing number have been adopted. However, it is vital to understand if we are going in the right direction and if there is progress in adapting to climate change. Therefore, the question is to what extent are these plans improving over time?

A team of circa 35 researchers from across Europe compiled and analyzed in detail 167 urban adaptation plans published between 2005 and 2020 and concluded that the overall quality of the plans, as well as their overall degree of consistency, improved.

However, most local authorities still do not sufficiently consider the needs of vulnerable people (e.g., the elderly, children, low-income people) in their planning to deal with climate change. It was found that newer plans are more likely to refer to the potential impacts of climate change in particular for vulnerable groups of people. However, the plans have deteriorated over time in the degree of detail of adaptation measures that mainly focus on vulnerable people. Very few cities involve older people, low-income people or (representatives of) children in the development of their adaptation policies or related monitoring and evaluation processes. Regarding climate impacts/risks and adaptation objectives, cities identify substantially more climate impacts/risks than objectives for adaptation, which points to a poor alignment between the two. The study states that cities need to start explicitly considering the needs of their inhabitants who are most vulnerable to climate change.

More details:

Open access full study (paper published on Nature Urban Sustainability): Reckien, D., Buzasi, A., Olazabal, M., Spyridaki, N-A., Eckersley, P., Simoes, S.G., et al. Quality of urban climate adaptation plans over time. npj Urban Sustain 3, 13 (2023).  https://doi.org/10.1038/s42949-023-00085-1

CarbonBrief News Channel Guest post – How climate adaptation plans for European cities are gradually getting better: https://www.carbonbrief.org/guest-post-how-climate-adaptation-plans-for-european-cities-are-gradually-getting-better/