Population has a strong influence on activity
researchers The Leibniz Institute for Sociospatial Research (IRS) in Erkner and the University of Potsdam For the first time, they compiled a comparative ranking of cities’ activity in the areas of climate protection and climate adaptation. I researched 104 large and medium-sized cities in Germany. Show that big cities are more active in climate policy than small cities. An urban commitment to climate protection also tends to be a commitment to adapting a city to the effects of climate change.
Climate protection and climate adaptation together for the first time
Cities are important sources of greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time, it is particularly affected by climate change: heat waves, torrential rains and storms cause serious damage to it. Some cities have committed to climate protection for nearly 30 years. They reduce greenhouse gas emissions by, for example, restricting vehicular traffic and enhancing construction efficiency. Fearing extreme weather events, climate change adaptation measures have been added in recent years, such as opening roofs and greening facades in order to promote natural cooling and infiltration.
For the first time, German cities’ strategies in climate protection and adaptation have been jointly evaluated and categorized. The results were published in the journal Climate change (open access) Released. All independent German cities with populations greater than 50,000 were examined, and distinguished according to the categories “very large” (over 500,000 inhabitants), “large” (100,000–500,000), and “medium” (50000–100,000). Your political activities and ambitions in both areas are recorded on the basis of publicly available information—such as membership in climate networks, published strategy documents and target numbers—and rated by points. All documents and information that were available by the end of 2018 have been taken into consideration. This resulted in the city’s climate protection and adaptation rating as well as a combined overall rating. In order to get a more differentiated picture, the researchers identified six groups of cities, each with a similar policy mix.
Old friends and surprise
As in the old rankings related to purely climate protection, major cities lead in this field. Berlin ranks first in the overall ranking and in the climate adaptation ranking. Hamburg, Bremen, Munich, Frankfurt am Main and other large cities also dominate the top 20 in the overall ranking as well as cities (Group 1) that are very strong in climate protection and adaptation. Closest to this are the large cities (Group 2) that are strong in both areas but focus on climate adaptation, such as Dresden, Cologne and Duisburg. The researchers conclude that resources and leadership in large cities in terms of climate protection often also help in formulating climate adaptation strategies.
The research team was surprised that some small cities rank higher in climate protection, while being less active in adapting to the climate (Group 3). This small group includes cities such as Emden, Kempten and Kaiserslautern. This shows that even medium-sized cities can be leaders in climate protection if local political will and adequate funding are combined. All three cities mentioned are privately funded master plan municipalities that want to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 95 percent by 2045 compared to 1990,” says Wolfgang Haupt, who is working on the study for the IRS.
Cities that are equally active in climate protection and adaptation, but less present in international networks (Group 4) include Bochum, Morse and Osnabrück. The state capital of Brandenburg, Potsdam, is also in this group and scores very well for a small city in the overall ranking (15th place). At the bottom of the three rankings are mainly the smaller mid-sized cities. “In these cities, there seems to be a particular lack of resources to deal with issues of climate protection and adaptation. Therefore, these cities should be given more focus in program funding and application support.” Antje Otto, who works on the arrangement at the University of Potsdam.
Since the end of the study at the end of 2018, the situation in some cities may have changed significantly, as evidenced by the dynamic development in 2019 with the announcement of “climate emergencies” in many cities. Therefore, the authors are already planning to update the arrangement in the future. The research was conducted as part of the “ExTrass: Urban Resilience to Extreme Weather Events” project funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).
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