Centre for Earth Systems Engineering Research

Cities

Cities

Overview

In the UK and around the world there is a growing awareness of the role that cities have to play in mitigating and adapting to climate change.

Cities are concentrations of vulnerability to the harmful impacts of climate change. They are also responsible for the majority of the world’s emissions of greenhouse gasses.

50% of the world’s population lives in cities, a number that is set to increase to 60% by 2030.

For all of these reasons, cities are on the front line in responding to the threats of climate change.

Our research

A wide variety of measures are now being considered and piloted. These include schemes to:

  • transform urban energy systems
  • reduce transport emissions
  • retrofit buildings 
  • conserve water
  • build resilience to flooding 
  • prepare for heat waves

These individual policies need to be implemented as part of an integrated strategy. This will steer cities towards low carbon and well adapted futures.

To do this, we need to understand the processes that are driving long term change in cities and the ways in which they interact.

We recognise demographic, economic, land use, technological and behavioural changes alongside climate change as drivers that will shape the future of cities.

Our activities

Find out more about:

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Urban Integrated Assessment Facility

The Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research has developed an Urban Integrated Assessment Facility (UIAF). This simulates the main processes of long term change at the scale of whole cities.

The UIAF couples a series of simulation modules within a scenario and policy analysis framework. 

Scenarios

It's driven by global and national scenarios of climate and socio-economic change. These feed into models of the regional economy and land use change. 

Simulations

Simulations of climate, land use and socio-economic change inform analysis of carbon dioxide emissions (focussing upon energy, personal transport and freight transport) and the impacts of climate change (focussing on heat waves, droughts and floods). 

Integrated assessment tool

The final component of the IUAF is the integrated assessment tool. This provides the interface between the modelling components, the results and the end-user. It enables adaptation and mitigation options to be explored within a common framework. 

Outcomes

We've analysed demographic, economic and land use changes. This work has quantified how socio-economic changes determine how hard it will be to reduce emissions. It has also shown how severe impacts of climate change may be. 

We've quantified the synergies and conflicts between adaptation to climate change and mitigation of carbon dioxide emissions. For example, we've examined the contribution that urban energy use makes to the urban heat island. 

We have used the UIAF to begin to understand how policies can be devised that yield benefits in relation to a number of objectives and avoid undesirable side-effects.

Collaboration

Throughout the course of the we have worked with stakeholders in London. These have included the Greater London Authority, Transport for London, the Environment Agency and Thames Water.

This has helped to understand the problems facing decision makers in London and demonstrate how the UIAF can help to analyse solutions. 

We've used datasets that are available in all UK cities. The approach could be used to develop and assess responses to climate change elsewhere in the UK.

Insights

Publications

Read about some of our key publications.