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Making cities better prepared for climate change

Many cities are impacted by climate extremes but lack plans to deal with them. Using the most reliable scientific data available, an EU-funded project created tools and services to help cities build climate change resilience and boost sustainable economic growth.

Climate Change and Environment

Cities are on the frontline of climate change impacts as they concentrate people, infrastructure, economic activities and many other resources into confined spaces.

From knowledge to action

The associated social, economic and infrastructural risks can be dramatically curbed through efficient design and mitigation strategies. This requires climate-informed decision-making across all levels of governance and planning. Although there is a vast body of publicly available climate data, it is not always presented in line with the requirements of specific regions and sectors. Often, the economic and social benefits of climate services are not clear, quantifiable or specific enough to be used easily and effectively. Working closely with city officials and urban stakeholders, the EU-funded Climate-fit.City project transforms complex, urban climate data into a set of highly usable tools to address local challenges.

Six tailored services

Project partners demonstrated the added value of the Climate-fit.City urban climate services for local decision-making in six cases across Europe. Primary urban climate data is provided by the project coordinator VITO, the Flemish Institute for Technological Research. The institute developed a flexible and highly precise computer model called UrbClim to generate detailed urban maps at a spatial resolution ranging from 100 metres to a kilometre. The Active Mobility service provides usable, detailed and future-conscious climate data to traffic planners. “This information should allow cities to select new roads that can be promoted for active mobility, identify unfavourable regions or routes severely exposed to extreme weather conditions, and plan future infrastructure,” notes project coordinator Filip Lefebre. It is incorporated as additional climatic feature in the existing GPS data analysis tool Bike Citizens Analytics that supports bicycle traffic planning in cities. The Building Energy service delivers accurate energy simulations to increase thermal comfort and lower heating and cooling consumption in buildings. Urban data is added to the Meteonorm software. The tool enables designers to access precise information about the radiation, temperature, humidity and wind speed of their city site. Yet another service provides information on the relationship between heat and health. The online demonstrator in Barcelona presents the risk of mortality during warm days, while London’s online demonstrator presents the risk of mortality during warm days and the likelihood of death per 1 ºC temperature increase. The Emergency Planning service helps predict changes in the frequency of extreme events. Data serve as input to the climate-proof city emergency plan to create more efficient emergency responses and future investment planning to extreme rainfalls and flooding. Using the Urban Planning service, end users can simulate various city development and land-use scenarios under climate change and model the distribution of heat stress levels. “The possibility of modelling land use change greatly helps advising on climate adaptation measures. Specifically, it allows us to build in heat stress resilience inside urban planning processes in a co-creative, convincing and scientifically sound manner,” notes Barbara Vojvodikova, the service development partner at the Institute for Sustainable Development of Settlements, Czechia. “Urban areas need to establish adaptation processes to become less sensitive to the negative impacts of climate change. This transformation needs to be cross-sectoral as climate change impacts many urban activities that are linked to each other. Climate-fit.City provides an integrated perspective, reaching out to different sectors such as health, active mobility, tourism management, urban planning, green infrastructure and emergency planning,” concludes Lefebre.

Keywords

Climate-fit.City, urban, cities, climate service, climate change, heatwave

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