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Developing Local Climate Change Plans

Developing Local Climate Change Plans

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This tool provides local policy-makers and major stakeholders with a methodology to plan for climate change. These plans must address both mitigation (e.g., reducing the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere) and adaptation (responding to the impacts of climate change). If they are to be effective, local plans for climate change (both adaptation and mitigation) require the involvement of a variety of stakeholders and a specific focus on the most vulnerable groups.
This tool provides local policy-makers and major stakeholders with a methodology to plan for climate change. These plans must address both mitigation (e.g., reducing the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere) and adaptation (responding to the impacts of climate change). If they are to be effective, local plans for climate change (both adaptation and mitigation) require the involvement of a variety of stakeholders and a specific focus on the most vulnerable groups.

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03/27/2014

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Various methods have been proposed and
used to assess the main risks or vulnerabilities
that cities are to face as a result of climate
change. Most involve consulting a broad range
of stakeholders to identify potential threats,
prior to assessing their relative importance
with a view to prioritising interventions.

In order to assess the overall degree of
vulnerability of a given urban centre, it is
necessary to consider seven main factors, as
follows:

Population. Although absolute popula-
tion does not directly influence vulnera-
bility, it does provide an indication of the
necessary scale of response. Large cities
with large numbers of people living in
‘at risk’ locations require more detailed
and sophisticated planning for adapta-
tion to climate change.

Population density. Again, high popu-
lation densities do not necessarily im-
ply high degrees of vulnerability. Dense
populations in high-quality buildings can
be very resistant to climate impacts, and
this can allow for cost-efficient provi-
sion of effective infrastructure. However,
dense populations in low-quality build-
ings can be particularly at risk.

The percentage of the population
who are poor or live in slums
. This is a
strong indicator of vulnerability, as low-
income urban residents lack the finan-
cial capacity to make individual improve-
ments to their homes or to respond to
additional shock or stress.

The percentage of urban land area
susceptible to particular events.

These might include slope failure, river-
bank erosion, coastal flooding, etc.

The state of existing urban infra-
structure
must be assessed, including
protective structures (e.g., seawalls),
bridges, roads (as they are affected by
extreme events and play an important
role in disaster recovery), schools, power
supply, etc.

The state of institutions, including
the availability or otherwise of disaster
preparedness plans, the state of urban
planning and of emergency response
systems, etc.

The role of the city in the national
economy.
Cities that play a central role
in the national economy are particularly
vulnerable, as climate change may result
in extensive ‘knock-on’ effects. This also
means that extreme weather events can
severely impair those very institutions ex-
pected to help respond to them.

Where available, detailed and up-to-date
city land-use plans can make significant
contributions to vulnerability assessments by
identifying vulnerable locations, particularly
where several aspects of vulnerability
(physical, social, etc.) intersect. On top
of this, vulnerability mapping can inform
future land-use plans that take in the need
for climate change adaptation.

The city consultation process provides an
ideal opportunity to assess overall urban
vulnerability. The points above can be
discussed by the all participants (or by
smaller sub-groups) for a double purpose:

(1) determining how the specific physical and
social features of a given urban centre
are to interact with likely changes in the
climate and generate vulnerability; and

(2) to identify the critical issues to be
addressed. The matrix in Table 11 will help
stakeholders in this double function. The

54 DEVELOPING LOCAL CLIMATE CHANGE PLANS

boxes on ‘exposure’ and ‘sensitivity’ can
be completed with a description of the
situation, or by allocating scores (e.g.,
from 1 to 10 for least to most exposed/

sensitive). Far from being an end in
itself, this matrix is meant to encourage
focused discussion on the main climate
change issues at hand.

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