Climate Change and Urban Policy Choices
A course given in master GETEC in Sciences Po.
2 hours per week, for 12 weeks
Table of Contents
Objective of the course
It is far from trivial for urban decision-makers to account for climate concerns in their decisions. First, the effectiveness of potential urban environmental policies is difficult to assess. The ways urban policies may impact GHG emissions or our vulnerability to climate change are numerous and complex. Various urban policies may interact, leading to synergies or trade-offs which are not always clearly understood. Second, climate action does not happen in a vacuum, but in a political context with pre-existing issues, social tensions, and policy objectives. The main objective of this course is therefore double:
- To understand the main challenges that metropolitan regions are facing in relation to climate change
- How to critically assess the potential responses to these challenges.
There are 12 sessions, grouped into 4 themes:
- Climate change impacts on cities (3 sessions)
- Greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions in cities (3 sessions)
- Implementing climate policies (3 sessions)
- Cross-cutting issues (3 sessions)
Courses in this program
Introduction to climate change and greenhouse gases emissions
Key climate impacts and indirect impacts
Health issues and heat waves
Adaptation to natural disasters (floods, hurricanes etc.)
Framing an adaptation strategy.
Transport emissions in cities
Urban form and land planning
Buildings and residential energy consumption (heating, cooling etc.)
Other emissions (food, consumption-based emissions etc.)
Framing a mitigation strategy
Questions and conclusion
- Cities and Climate Change (article) on MIT website
- U.S. National Climate Assessment: “Built Environment, Urban Systems, and Cities” (report)
- C40 knowledge hub “Cutting-edge insights and practical resources from leading climate cities.” This website provides synthetic reports about main climate-related issues in cities, as well as numerous examples of adaptation and mitigation policies implemented in cities around the world.
- Carbon Brief provides clear articles about the latest research on climate change and climate policies. Their newsletter is a must-read for anyone interested by climate change.
For more information, here are the main reference documents (difficult to read in their entirety, but useful to look for specific questions) :
- About adaptation policies in cities: IPCC 2022, Working Group 2 on Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability to climate change. “Chapter 6: Cities, settlements and key infrastructure.”
- About mitigation policies in cities: IPCC 2022, Working Group 3 on Mitigation of Climate Change. “Chapter 8: Urban systems and other settlements."
- Rosenzweig, C., Solecki, W., Romero-Lankao, P., Mehrotra, S., Dhakal, S., & Ali Ibrahim, S. (Eds.). (2018). Climate Change and Cities: Second Assessment Report of the Urban Climate Change Research Network. Cambridge University Press.
Are there prerequisites?
A good understanding of the physical mechanisms behind climate change, the origin of greenhouse gases emissions, and the main consequences of climate changes, is required.
Here are a few ideas of websites with basic information on climate change (many other exist) :
- MIT and NASA websites on climate change provide clear introductory articles and great infographics. So does Imperial College website
- NY Times FAQ on climate change and the plain language definition of Climate Jargon
- A nice document by IPCC explaining how to teach climate change, really worth reading
- [in French] https://bonpote.com/les-meilleures-sources-sur-lenvironnement-et-le-climat-tous-niveaux-confondus/
If you are in France, it is worth trying to participate to a Fresque du climat event. It is also worth watching this introductory lecture by Valérie Masson Delmotte to the convention citoyenne du climat [in French].