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Thursday, July 9, 2009

Cities Pilot Project

ICLEI-USA has released a new report summarising work from the Cities Pilot Project, which has documented greenhouse gas mitigation and, to a lesser extent, adaptation efforts in 18 U.S. cities. While ICLEI continues to progress slowly with advancing adaptation efforts, it's quite apparent from the new report that adaptation remains somewhat of a second fiddle to mitigation in the organisation's eyes.

At the request of ICLEI, cities participating in the pilot project responded to a request for information regarding mitigation and adaptation. According to the report, all cities identified the risks associated with climate change (although these risks included risks associated with both mitigation and adaptation). Risks were crudely categorised as "regulatory", "physical," and "general", but if you are like me, these groupings are too generic to be of much utility. Supporting text provides some more specific examples, which reflects the range of risks perceived by cities, but doesn't elucidate how widespread and comprehensive understanding of risk is among these 18 cities. Undoubtedly, some cities are pushing forward with adaptation planning, with the well-known assessment and planning work in Chicago as a case-in-point. However, the lack of detail in the report on actual adaptation efforts suggests Chicago is an exceptional leader in this arena. Other cities may be wise to follow in Chicago's footsteps, but many do not yet appear to be in a position to do so, and it's unclear the extent to which ICLEI-USA has the capability to help support adaptation.
In contrast, ICLEI-Oceania has done some significant work on adaptation and has developed an adaptation toolkit for cities and Local Government. Hopefully, the folks in Oceania will eventually share their tools with their colleagues in America to assist in putting U.S. municipalities on a more balanced footing in responding to climate change.

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