Table of Contents

Elgar Companion to Sustainable Cities

Elgar Companion to Sustainable Cities

Strategies, Methods and Outlook

Elgar original reference

Edited by Daniel A. Mazmanian and Hilda Blanco

Against a backdrop of unprecedented levels of urbanization, 21st century cities across the globe share concerns for the challenges they face. This Companion provides a framework for understanding the city as a critical building block for a more sustainable future within broader subnational, national and continental contexts, and ultimately, within a global systems context. It discusses the sustainable strategies being devised, as well as the methods and tools for achieving them. Examples of social, economic, political and environmental sustainable policy strategies are presented and the extent to which they actually increase sustainability is analyzed.

Chapter 16: Climate change adaptation

Adrienne I. Greve and Michael R. Boswell

Subjects: economics and finance, regional economics, environment, environmental sociology, geography, cities, urban and regional studies, cities, urban studies


Climate change adaptation is the assessment of community vulnerability to climate change impacts and the development of strategies to reduce them. It is complementary to the development of strategies to reduce a community’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Both types of strategies are needed and often fall under the broader umbrella of climate action planning. Reducing GHG emissions (often referred to as ‘mitigation’) addresses the root cause of climate change by aiming to limit atmospheric concentrations of heat-trapping gases. But due to the persistence of these gases in the atmosphere, observable slowing of the progression of climate change would be many decades away even if aggressive GHG emissions reductions were to occur today. Changes to the climate are already occurring and are projected to continue well into the future regardless of the level of GHG emissions reduction achieved (Field et al. 2012; Solomon et al. 2007). Climate change adaptation refers to actions taken to address these unavoidable climate impacts. While action must be taken at all scales, cities are critical to the development and implementation of effective climate adaptation measures. Despite being a global problem, the impacts of climate change will be felt most severely at the local level. The challenge of climate adaptation is that direct climate impacts such as sea-level rise, temperature changes, including extreme heat events, and change in precipitation patterns have a variety of secondary impacts on community conditions.

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