Climate change: what should cities and communities do now?

reduce land use

Instead of preserving the soil in the municipal area and increasing its storage capacity, it is still being built and sealed in many places. In Germany, 56 hectares are still used every day for new settlements and traffic areas. Land use in Bavaria has not decreased, as the state government promised after the last state elections, but has actually increased from 10.0 to 10.8 hectares per day. And the construction boom in Bavaria doesn’t stop even at state-owned forests, despite all the protests.

The German Institute for Urban Studies therefore advises cities and communities to urgently reduce this huge amount of land use. Jens Hasse of Difu advises that instead of continuing to push for space-intensive and resource-intensive housing construction, as has been the case until now, vacant lots should be used, brownfield sites recycled and qualified vacancies and areas underused. This is climate protection and protection against heavy rain and flooding at the same time.

“Double internal development”

It is obvious that this is not easy, especially in cities that are already densely built up. The German Union for Conservation of Nature (NABU) recommends “dual internal development” to prevent them from growing more and more in the surrounding rural areas, which would result in further land loss: developing buildings within cities rather than on prestigious areas in the suburbs.

However, in order not to sacrifice the remaining green spaces, which are urgently needed for adaptation to climate change, undeveloped but already developed areas should be used. According to NABU, it is necessary to verify on a case-by-case basis how suitable the property is as a construction site and how valuable it would be as an open space and green space. According to NABU, another option is to add floors to existing buildings, for example by converting the roof.

In rapidly growing cities, significantly taller new constructions would also be possible, although, as in the case of Munich, these are not always undisputed.

Better public transport, especially in the countryside

An old call from environmental organizations for greater climate protection concerns traffic: after all, it is responsible for nearly a fifth of CO2 emissions. Particularly in rural areas, it is important to create interesting alternatives to the car. Just this week, a large alliance of Bavarian opposition parties and environmental groups called for places with more than 1,000 inhabitants to be accessible by bus every hour from 6am to 11pm.

The difficulty here is that local public transport in Bavaria does not come from a single source. Urban districts and districts are responsible, as municipal authorities, for the ordering of general public transport. In addition, however, there is the rail traffic ordered by the Bavarian Railways.

Finally, this has yet to be coordinated with Deutsche Bahn passenger transport. This was underlined by the Bavarian Minister of Transport Schreyer (CSU). Your ministry has set up a committee called “Zukunftsrat ÖPNV” which will develop a strategy for a “2030 ÖPNV Strategy” at Bavarian level within the next year. A task to which the municipalities can contribute, but which they cannot solve on their own.

Use advice and support

As diverse as the possibilities with which cities and municipalities can pursue climate protection and climate protection, the right measures and also the options for financial support from the federal states, the federal government and the EU are often confused. The new Center for Climate Adaptation aims to offer very specific and practical help here.

Employees of municipalities, but also of social institutions, can obtain specific help for planning and implementing climate protection measures via a hotline, online consultation hours, personal consultations and workshops. On behalf of the Federal Ministry of the Environment, the advisory body should ensure that as many others as possible follow the many good examples of municipal climate protection.

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