Climate plan: starter pack for a big city

Climate Actions Coaching 9 min read, July 7, 2020

Big cities are engines of culture, community and innovation. They are the natural leaders who can grasp the climate opportunity to enhance the liveability of their citizens. How could they use climate actions to take their leadership to the next level? πŸš€

Challenges of a big city

Big cities (here defined as cities with more than 200k inhabitants) face enormous pressure from rapid urbanisation. Land -and other resources such as water or food- are under constant competition. Yet, big cities have what it takes to take the lead on climate action.

Internally (big) city teams struggle to demonstrate the urgency of climate plans and push them through the ever-changing political agenda. In this landscape, competing priorities are always on the horizon. On top of this, big cities have many plans, policies, budgets... and cross-sectorial collaboration might be hard to seize.

Big cities offer the perfect seedbed for innovation. Many technological and social innovations are already happening every day in the streets. Yet, city teams can’t keep track of all the innovations and might miss the chance to upscale quality ideas.

Externally, the sectorial climate challenges of big cities are complex. Every big city has its own profile: more industry, more tertiary services, or more touristic. However, there is a clear top 5 sector challenges when it comes to emissions: 1) mobility, 2) households, 3) tertiary, 4) industry and 5) government. Big cities are natural leaders who can grasp the climate opportunity to enhance the livability for their citizens. Our take for big cities: scale-up mature measures and support further development of new measures.

Taking the natural leadership of big cities to the next level

Top climate measures for a big city

Start by scaling up the measures of our starter pack for a medium city. Those measures are mature and bring substantial economic savings to your citizens. Then, let the real challenge for big cities begin. Let’s focus on impactful measures to take your big city to the next level in each sector:

Mobility 🚲

The focus of mobility in big cities should be simple: connect as many dots as possible. Supply local needs and use soft mobility as much as possible. Public transport is preferred over private transport, and ultimately a technological shift to electric vehicles is advised.

πŸ—οΈ Scale-up:

πŸš€ Support further development:

(* = measure currently being developed in our database)

Bike Share Rack in D.C. at Mid-day
Soft mobility brings many benefits to big cities.

Buildings (households and tertiary)

Big cities often face heterogeneous building conditions. One thing is certain: climate measures can save energy bills to both households and businesses. Additionally, these measures can bring extra comfort and property value.

πŸ—οΈ Scale-up:

πŸš€ Support further development:

Bosco verticale 121
Re-greening the cities brings both adaptation and mitigation benefits

Industry (non-ETS)

πŸ—οΈ Scale-up:

  • Purchase of 100% green electricity. This measure ensures that an additional percentage of industries (not-ETS) purchase 100% green electricity.
  • PV solar panels in the industry. This measure ensures the installation of photovoltaic solar panels in businesses.

πŸš€ Support further development:

  • Increased efficiency of electric motors. This measure aims to increase the efficiency of electric motor systems in the industrial sector.
  • Smart energy meters. This measure ensures the monitoring and optimisation of the processes within the light industry.

Government operations

πŸ—οΈ Scale-up:

πŸš€ Support further development:

  • Technological shift in the municipal fleet. This measure ensures that new electric cars are bought by the municipality.
  • Solar water heaters. This measure ensures the installation of a solar water heater in governmental buildings.
The role of the municipality is to set the example and inspire citizens to join the action

Adaptation in big cities

πŸ—οΈ Scale-up:

  • Cool paving and building materials. This measure aims to actively retrofit buildings with materials that reflect the sunlight (light and/or reflective colours).
  • Planting trees. This measure provides for the planting of trees in the built-up urban area. Action example: Barcelona, Spain (1.5 Mio inhabitants) invests €9 million in a Tree Master Plan.
  • Water permeable soils. This measure aims to reduce soil sealing in existing and new built environments.
  • No build zones. This measure implies defining special places where no construction is allowed. Instead, green areas can be developed.

πŸš€ Support further development:

Key learnings for big cities

πŸ§‘β€πŸ€β€πŸ§‘ Having everybody on board is key. This applies both for the internal municipality and for external actors such as citizens and companies. In a jungle of data and programmes, a centralising tool for climate plans can make a big difference. Additionally, having easy and attractive communication channels with citizens can ensure they are engaged.

πŸš€ An ambition that is feasible. By choosing this list of measures with our suggested target, a fictitious city of 500k inhabitants could reduce its emissions by 44% by 2030. This ambition level is similar to iconic frontrunner cities such as Stockholm. Naturally, some of our suggested measures require more investments than others. If we bundle them together using a mitigation cost curve, the result is a budget-friendly plan.

πŸ’°This plan for a fictitious city would not only save 1.2 million tons CO2 but a lot of money as well. Significative investments (€4 billion) will be needed at the beginning but after 15 years the net benefits (€4.2 billion) will surpass the investments. This results in a net present value of €180 million that goes to households, businesses and the city. This way, the climate plan saves our society money while making it more attractive and liveable.

The mitigation cost curve of the suggested measures for a big city. The green dots represent the overall cost of the individual measures (blocks). When the green dots are under or close to zero, the plan is (slightly) profitable.

β˜€οΈFutureproofedCities makes it easy to organise, delegate and keep track of climate measures. Drop us an email if you want to see in our tool how a fictitious big city can tackle emissions with our suggested list.

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