City action on climate change

Today’s research is tomorrow’s design. We’re asking researchers within Arup and beyond to describe their work and its potential applications. Harriet O’Brien and Annie Gibbons, energy and climate change consultants in our London office, gave us a sneak peek of their forthcoming research on cities and climate change.

What are you studying?

We’re partnering with the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group to study the actions cities are taking to address climate change and the factors that help and hinder them from doing so. Drawing on unique data sets and evidence-based research, our team is producing a series of research papers aimed at demonstrating the crucial role cities play in addressing climate change. We’re also working on providing evidence for decision makers and stakeholders involved in negotiations toward a global agreement on climate change.

A soon-to-be-released paper called Climate Action in Megacities 3.0 presents the latest research into city climate action, undertaken by C40 and Arup, based on self-reported data from 66 cities in 2015. Following two previous installments of this research in 2011 and 2013, Climate Action in Megacities 3.0 tracks the burgeoning scale and volume of city climate action globally.

Population growth, urbanization, and climate change together form a powerful nexus of opportunity and threat.

While continuing this work, we’ve expanded the C40 partnership to include more in-depth research into specific issues. The recently released Powering Climate Action: Cities as Global Changemakers focuses on power and governance, exploring the interplay between the powers that city governments hold, the decision-making structures in which they operate, and the actions they are able to take to address climate change.

We’re also working on a report focusing on the obstacles stopping cities from taking action on climate change and a study examining innovative data visualization tools to further analyze and communicate C40’s data.

Why is this important?

Population growth, urbanization, and climate change together form a powerful nexus of opportunity and threat. Cities are in a strong position to respond, and many are now seeking to confirm that status on the international stage. Perhaps most prominently, they will come together in a cities forum at the Paris COP21 conference later this year.

What are the potential implications for the future?

State governments, international investors, industry decision makers, and a range of other actors are increasingly recognizing the potential of cities in tackling climate change. The Arup/C40 work promotes the idea of cities as adept collaborators and catalysts for climate action. We see sharing our learning from these projects as an important way to drive this agenda and encourage more stakeholders to join the discussion.

What are the next steps?

Following the first round of Arup/C40 publications, we aim to conduct more detailed research into potential solutions for the challenges we have highlighted, such as resource and funding obstacles and political challenges.

We’ll also take our work to the Paris COP21 discussions and continue to share our research findings in other ways, helping more cities find solutions to their climate challenges.

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