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retrofit briefing Technologhy4Change

Published by BRE Trust

Which British city is best prepared for climate change?


Research ranks 30 cities for their ability to adapt and mitigate global warming

Researchers at Newcastle University have ranked 30 UK cities on their ability to combat the cause of climate change and adapt to future weather patterns. Their research rated London and Leicester highest both for adaptation and mitigation, with Wrexham and Derry ranking the lowest.

The Urban Climate Change Preparedness Scores look at what each city is doing not only to reduce greenhouse emissions but also to adapt to weather extremes such as flooding and drought. City scores are based on four levels of readiness:

  • Assessment
  • Planning
  • Action
  • Monitoring.

The results, published in the academic journal Climatic change, reveal huge variation across the UK. The 30 cities chosen for the study had been selected as part of the European Urban Audit database and are representative of urban areas across the UK.

How the cities did

London was found to have one of the most advanced strategies in place, mitigating the impact on climate change through, for example, energy efficiency and saving, increasing the use of renewables, waste management and introduction of greener modes of transport. Leicester also scored highly, carrying out rigorous monitoring and providing regular reports on the city’s carbon footprints.

Others, such as Newcastle, had advanced electric vehicle infrastructures, while Sheffield and Coventry have established programmes to produce more energy from waste and reduce landfill.

Almost all cities had set targets for reducing CO2 emissions although quite a few would not commit to an actual target, figure or timescale. Reduction targets varied from 10% to 80%.

In most cities, adaptation policies lagged behind mitigation plans. Although flooding was a key threat in many urban areas, the team found that many cities were still unprepared to cope with extremes of weather patterns. Although many had flood protection schemes in place, few had assessed whether they were effective.

Dr Oliver Heidrich, a senior research in Newcastle’s School of Civil Engineering and Geosciences, said: “The aim of this research is not to name and shame cities, but if we are to be prepared for the increased occurrences of floods and droughts then we do need to make sure that our climate change policies are in place, that they are working, and that the consequences of implementing these strategies are being checked.”

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