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The University of Massachusetts Amherst

"Urban modeling to inform climate policies: A case-study on Paris urban area"

Wednesday, September 12, 2012 | 11:30 am
Vincent Viguie
International Center of Research on the Environment and Development (CIRED)

Because they are home to more than half of the world population, and because most of the world economic activity takes place within them, cities are at the forefront of global environmental issues. Land use planning, urban transport and housing policies are now recognized as major tools for the reduction of both greenhouse gases emissions and vulnerability to climate change impacts. So far, however, how to use these tools efficiently remains unclear. At least three main difficulties explain this, and play a key role in urban climate policies analysis. First, urban climate policies are also not developed or implemented in a vacuum; they interact with other policy goals, such as economic competitiveness or social issues, giving rise to both synergies and conflicts. Second, inertia is a key factor when designing optimal climate policies: structural modifications in cities occur slowly over a long time horizon. Some immediate actions are required if cities are to be adapted to a different climate or to help reduce greenhouse gases emissions within a few decades. Third, the evolution of a city depends on several external factors, on which local policy-makers do not generally have much influence: demographic, socio-economic, cultural, political and technological changes will play a major role. This uncertainty has to be taken into account, and climate policies have to be robust against future possible global evolutions. These three difficulties are not, however, impossible to overcome, and, using a model that we have developed, NEDUM-2D, we will illustrate how integrated city modeling can help address these issues.