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How to combine adaptation and mitigation actions: Making the Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy a reality
How to combine adaptation and mitigation actions: Making the Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy a reality
18 August 2016 - 16:53

As both mitigation and adaptation ultimately aim to reduce the adverse impacts of climate change, they are essential parts of a comprehensive and efficient approach to tackling climate change. Mitigation and adaptation actions are often perceived and undertaken separately but in many cases, they can be addressed at the same time and benefit each other in the process. Combined mitigation and adaptation action has the potential to multiply the benefits and therefore make more efficient use of the money that cities spend on climate action.

The Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy addresses these synergies between the mitigation and adaptation-related pillars of the initiative. For example, where renewable energy sources, like hydro and biogas are introduced, cities could also address the continuation of the energy supply in the case of extreme weather events. Campaigns to promote energy savings already have an adaptation effect in various cases. Insulation, for example, is often solely considered a mitigation measure to reduce energy use for heating or cooling. However, it also often increases resilience to heat waves and/or extreme temperatures. Where buildings are renovated to reduce energy consumption in the long term, shading structures could be incorporated to reduce the heat flux of buildings and further improve thermal comfort. Similarly, the outcomes of energy audits of buildings can be used to determine which buildings could benefit most from the installation of cooling elements such as green roofs and facades. The link between such measures and adaptation becomes even clearer, when emphasising the increased resilience of the grid and the reduced likelihood of blackouts as a result of lower peak electricity demand during phases of extreme temperatures.

In an effort to make the emission-intensive transportation sector more climate-friendly, many cities have introduced improved public transportation systems and bicycle services. New cycling paths could also, for instance, incorporate natural or permeable materials that improve stormwater drainage. Tree planting programs, which are often primarily used to contribute to carbon absorption and emission reduction, can also be strategically implemented alongside roads to improve natural drainage and reduce the likelihood of flooding. In cases where the amount of car traffic in a city is reduced to improve air quality and reduce GHG emissions, spaces formerly occupied by cars can be greened to provide shade for pedestrians, form a wind corridor to create a cooling effect, and/or improve drainage through unsealed surfaces.

In order to identify and exploit these adaptation-related benefits of mitigation measures, it is important for cities to align policy processes. Whether through greenbelt policies, flood zoning, or transportation policies, governments have the opportunity to establish the institutional links between the various policy areas and take advantage of existing funding, tools, processes, and other resources. By capitalising on the adaptation/mitigation nexus, cities can leverage their climate action efforts and accelerate progress towards their climate and energy targets.

  • To go further:

To find out more about how cities in Europe are adapting to climate change, check out the city profiles on the Climate-ADAPT website.

For mitigation examples, see the Covenant signatories' Benchmarks of Excellence.

Additional information and resources on the link between mitigation and adaptation can be found in the Urban Adaptation Support Tool here.

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