New tool will help cities understand interactions between mitigation and adaptation actions

C40 and CIFF recently launched a new online tool that will help cities understand the relationship between mitigation measures, which reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and adaptation measures, which reduce climate risk. Based on cities’ experiences and designed for cities, this is the first tool available that will help policy-makers systemically analyse potential interactions between mitigation and adaptation as they develop climate action plans.

“In Melbourne we realise energy consumption, urban heat island effect and people’s health are highly connected. That is why we are working to green our city by doubling the canopy cover, promoting green roofs and walls of buildings and increasing open space; by doing this we can cool the city by 4 degrees and reduce demand on our electricity supply.”  

– Sally Capp, Mayor of Melbourne

The transition towards zero carbon cities requires enormous investments to reduce emissions across our cities’ systems, from energy to buildings to transport infrastructure and waste management. At the same time, cities need to take adaptation measures to protect themselves against current and future extreme weather events. Failing to integrate the two policies could potentially lead not only to mal-investment and conflicts of interest, but also missed opportunities.

“In Rotterdam we see the integration of adaptation and mitigation as a huge opportunity. For example, we promote green roofs that do not just provide a rainwater buffer, but also reduce energy use and increase the performance of solar panels. Being below sea level, we have started retrofitting our pumping stations to stay dry in a low carbon way; and one of our oldest football stadiums now captures rainwater that can be re-used for watering the field.”

– Ahmed Aboutaleb, Mayor of Rotterdam

Funded by the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, the Adaptation and Mitigation Interaction Assessment (AMIA) tool is based on literature review, but also contains many newly-documented case studies from C40 member cities. The tool was tested by city staff from Durban, Melbourne, Rio de Janeiro and New York, to ensure that it meets the needs of technical teams.

Its user-friendly design enables cities to methodically identify potential interactions between existing or proposed climate adaptation and mitigation actions, highlight potential opportunities and conflicts, and provide users with case studies and relevant examples to guide decision-making.

The library of nearly 60 case studies not only provides illustrated examples of those interactions, but also brings insight on the actual implementation in different environments. Designed as a living tool, it will be regularly updated with new case studies both from C40 cities and external sources.

“In Ethekwini the adaptation and mitigation staff have closely collaborated for many years and we highly encourage cities to do the same. We participated in the AMIA pilot group to share our stories on integration and to inspire other cities. The library of case studies makes the tool a useful resource to be used by local teams around the globe.”

– Zandile Gumede, Mayor of Durban

For each action selected by the city, the AMIA tool pinpoints:

  • Synergies: the win-win situation, when actions reduce both carbon emissions and climate risks
  • Trade-offs: when actions have contrary effects on adaptation and mitigation, so when mitigation actions increase climate risk or adaptation actions increase emissions
  • Risks of mal-investment: when actions can be undone or rendered less effective by the effects of climate change if they are not sufficiently resilient
  • Piggybacking opportunities: when actions are coupled in their design or implementation and additional mitigation or adaptation actions are added at a small marginal cost

The tool is now available on the C40 Resource Centre, together with a tutorial video and online form to submit additional case studies. The tool and resource centre are part of the broader C40 Climate Action Planning Technical Assistance Programme, which aims to build capacity within cities to develop robust and ambitious climate action plans.

For further information please contact Chantal Oudkerk Pool at coudkerkpool@c40.org.