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Trade-offs and synergies in urban climate policies


Cities are at the forefront of climate policies1,2,3,4,5,6. However, urban climate policies are not implemented in a vacuum; they interact with other policy goals, such as economic competitiveness or social issues. These interactions can lead to trade-offs and implementation obstacles, or to synergies7,8. Little analysis investigating these interactions exists, in part because it requires a broad interdisciplinary approach. Using a new integrated city model, we provide a first quantification of these trade-offs and synergies, going beyond the qualitative statements that have been published so far. We undertake a multicriteria analysis of three urban policies: a greenbelt policy, a zoning policy to reduce flood risk and a transportation subsidy. Separately, each of these policies seems to be undesirable because each one negatively affects at least one of the different policy goals; however, in a policy mix, the consequences of each policy are not simply additive. This nonlinearity permits building policy combinations that are win–win strategies. In particular, flood zoning and greenbelt policies can only be accepted if combined with transportation policies. Our results show that stand-alone adaptation and mitigation policies are unlikely to be politically acceptable and emphasize the need to mainstream climate policy within urban planning.

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Figure 1
Figure 2: Consequences of a greenbelt policy, a public-transport subsidy and a zoning policy to reduce the risk of flooding compared with the do-nothing scenario.
Figure 3: Consequences of a policy mix including all three policies.

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This study received financial support from the Agence Nationale de la Rercherche through the projects Vulnérabilité Urbaine aux épisodes Caniculaires et stratégies d’Adaptation (ANR-08-VULN-013) and Modélisation Urbaine et Stratégies d’adaptation au Changement climatique pour Anticiper la Demande et la production Energétique (ANR-09-VILL-0003-01). The authors are grateful to D. Rouchaud, A. Sauvant, J-L. Salagnac and N. Coulombel for providing data. T. Bigio, J. Corfee-Morlot, M. Fay, E. Genovese, L-G. Giraudet and P. Avner provided comments. The findings, interpretations and conclusions expressed in this paper are entirely those of the authors. They do not necessarily represent the views of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development/World Bank and its affiliated organizations or those of the executive directors of the World Bank or the governments they represent.

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V.V. carried out the computational analysis. S.H. initiated the study. S.H. and V.V. continued and finalized its design. They both wrote the paper.

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Correspondence to Vincent Viguié.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Viguié, V., Hallegatte, S. Trade-offs and synergies in urban climate policies. Nature Clim Change 2, 334–337 (2012).

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