Third of European cities lack emission reduction plans

One in every three European cities has no plans on the table to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while seven in every ten urban areas have no formal adaptation plans in place, according to a report published in the Climate Change journal.

The study, conducted by Columbia University researchers, has analysed strategic planning policies and planning documents of 200 large and medium-sized cities in eleven European countries.

Focusing mostly on urban planning, energy efficiency, renewable energy generation and carbon footprint, the team, led by Diana Reckien, has found that while 65 per cent of the studied cities had a mitigation plan in place, less than a third had also an adaptation plan. Only one in every four cities had quantitative targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

UK cities performed extremely well in the assessment with 93 per cent of UK cities having a climate change mitigation plan. For example in France or Belgium, only about 40 per cent cities have prepared such a plan .

Dutch cities have proved to be the most ambitious when it comes to greenhouse gas reduction, aiming to become completely carbon neutral by 2050.

According to the authors of the paper, if the planned actions within cities were nationally representative, the European Union would achieve its 20 per cent reduction target, but fall short of the 80 per cent emission reduction recommended to avoid the global mean temperature rising by more than 2°C.

How cities respond to climate change is important as they are responsible for 31 to 80 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Cities are particularly vulnerable to climate hazards due to their high density of people, their assets and infrastructure. On the other hand, such urban areas are unencumbered by the complicated international negotiations that hamper climate change action at the international level.

The study was funded by the European Science Foundation COST Action TU0902.

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