Cities are utilizing climate platforms to better inform them of the effects of environmental policies and decisions on reducing carbon emissions.
Cities tend to be further ahead than their national governments on commitments to tackle the climate crisis, but without the same level of resources, a lot of these pledges are little more than ambitious targets the cities hope to reach one day.
That is changing however, with cities investing more into analytics platforms and consultancies, which are able to provide actionable insights as to the best ways to reduce pollution in certain areas of the city and improve citizens health, on a manageable budget.
One of these platforms, ClimateOS, is working with more than 50 cities – almost all based in Europe – to help make the pledges cities make to reducing their carbon footprint actionable and understandable. The integrated platform, which is run by ClimateView, combines a wealth of data collected on previous smart city developments and an analytics platform to show city planners what effect an environmental policy will have on pollution levels and other socioeconomic factors.
ClimateOS was built by Tomer Shalit, as a follow-up to his highly successful campaign to make Sweden’s 2017 Climate Act more operational by breaking it down into constituent parts, which removed the many layers of complexity and enabled more of the public to be involved with the progress the government was making.
“There was this avalanche of material, but none of it was operational,” said Shalit to The Guardian. “There were solid, ambitious targets, but no roadmaps for reaching them. There was a ton of evidence, but no concrete action plans. And nothing was connected.”
By breaking down various climate targets and policies into easy to maneuver levers, cities are able to more readily understand what effect pedestrianizing a road or creating a clean air zone will have on the carbon levels in the city. Alongside this, the platform will also inform city planners on the positive effects changes will have on citizen health, and the economy.
“Cities get the big, integrated picture,” said Shalit. “They can connect emissions, climate actions and now also economics, at a system-wide level. They see what activities drive emissions, and what the effects of reducing them will be. It allows them to simulate, and understand, the ‘what if’ scenarios.”
For new projects, cities often need to find financing from outside sources, such as central government or private backers. More governments are setting up programs which deal directly with climate projects, often awarding funds to the cities that can provide the most return-on-investment, through co-benefits to businesses and citizens.
“There are huge amounts of funding available, but to secure a share of it, cities need to make comprehensive climate investment plans, supported by accurate data. The money is there, but without the analysis, cities can’t access it,” said Shalit. ClimateOS enables city leaders to be more adept at marketing their climate plans as valuable not only to reducing carbon emissions, but to improving the city in other ways.
This sort of climate technology is available outside of Europe and many cities in North America and Asia are looking into ways to cut down on carbon, but Europe appears to be the epicenter for a lot of this development, spurred on by the European Union’s more progressive pledges to reduce carbon emissions over the next decade.