6th RAMSES newsletter

Table of contents

Welcome to the sixth RAMSES Newsletter!

The RAMSES eNewsletter will inform you about results and events of the EU research project RAMSES. The aim is to keep all relevant actors in the field of climate change adaptation up to date with regard to much needed quantification of the impact of climate change on cities and criteria to prioritise adaptation options.

I) RAMSES Research

II) RAMSES news

III) New RAMSES research reports

IV) RAMSES publications

I) RAMSES Research

RAMSES and COP21 follow-up

The 21st United Nations Conference on climate change (COP21) that took place in Paris in December 2015 resulted in 195 countries adopting an unprecedented agreement on climate action. According to the UNFCCC, cities “will be key to a low carbon, resilient global economy able to address and adapt to climate change” (UNFCCC newspage). Cities, as hubs of productive activity, people, assets, and infrastructure, are particularly vulnerable to climate change and remain central to effective adaptation action. If policy makers are to implement measures to adapt to heat waves, flooding and other climate-related hazards in cities, a better understanding of the scale of damages and the effectiveness of different adaptation strategies is required. This newsletter focuses on the effort of RAMSES partners to develop methods for assessing city-wide impacts of climate change and the associated costs of adaptation.


Innovative and transferable cost methodology to assess the impact of specific climatic hazards through different channels of production in urban areas

In line with the overarching goals, RAMSES has been developing a transferable methodology for generating data on the economic costs of climate change impacts in cities. The methodology is based on the premise that each hazard affects one or more parameters of city production in different sectors, and estimates their overall impact through this particular channel.

We implemented the methodology by examining the impact of urban heat waves on productivity loss and how the reduction in productivity leads to production losses across sectors of the city economy. Our approach allows us to assess various characteristics of urban production, including the flexibility of the productive system in terms of the degree of substitution between labour and capital, its labour intensity, and the relative importance of different sectors in the economy.

Our model starts from the micro-level evidence that heat induces a decrease in productivity at the individual level and shows how this decrease aggregates into production losses at the macro/city level. We use estimated future urban temperatures and study the costs to the urban economy and the relative benefits of different adaptation measures. A high level description of the model is presented in Figure 1.

Figure 1. A transferable cost assessment methodology: from global temperature to the urban economy.

Initial results suggest that the impacts of heat on the urban economy are highly variable and depend on characteristics of production, such as the elasticity of substitution between capital and labour, and the sectoral division of production. Under certain assumptions, in a warm year in the far future (2081-2100), the total losses to the urban economy could range between 0.4% of Gross Value Added (GVA) for London and 9.5% for Bilbao in the absence of adaptation. Figure 2 presents an estimation of GVA losses at different points in time. In addition to differences in temperatures, the structure of the city’s economy – in terms of the size of different sectors of the economy - has a major influence on the magnitude of damages, with large urban construction sectors being particularly vulnerable to heat effects.

 

Figure 2: Heat related GVA losses across time through decreases in productivity(years 2005, and warm and cold years in the near – 2026-2045 – and far – 2081-2100 future).


For the three case study cities examined in the RAMSES project – London, Antwerp and Bilbao, the averted losses due to adaptation measures such as behaviour change, air conditioning, ventilation, insulation and solar blinds were estimated to range from minus €314 million (i.e. a cost of adapting) to over €23 billion.

More details on the method and its application to the quantification of costs of heat waves and flooding in cities are available on the full report. A database with the resulting costs will be uploaded onto the European Climate Adaptation Platform.


A tool to estimate the local economic costs of health impacts of and adaptation to climate change

The engagement of local governments in general and specific measures of adaptation to climate change remains on average low, both in the European Union and in a broader European context. Scarce locally relevant data and a lack of specialized knowledge are two of the main barriers that help explain this inadequate engagement, highlighting the need to generate, use and share local scientific and technical evidence to inform adaptation policy. The economic and financial implications of climate change impacts and adaptation options are an increasingly important basis of this evidence, in the interest of a fair assessment of priorities in the allocation of resources. Like all adaptation activities, interventions to protect human health from climate change should routinely be evaluated not only in terms of their effectiveness or unintended consequences, but also in terms of the health damage cost of inaction, the cost of health adaptation, and the monetized benefits of different alternatives.

As part of RAMSES Work Package 6, an assessment tool to estimate the economic costs of health impacts of climate change has recently been completed. The tool consists of a simplified model based on Microsoft® Excel™ and an accompanying document providing background information and guidance for users. The tool is adapted to the needs of local government stakeholders, whom in case studies and stakeholder dialogues expressed a need for adaptation decision support tools to be based on a limited number of inputs and applicable also in settings of low data availability. It can be applied both prospectively and retrospectively, and although it can be applied at various geographical scopes, its main geographic scope is the local level.

The tool can be applied in low data availability settings, and a series of default or suggested economic values are provided to facilitate its use in the absence of locally generated data. Despite this simplification, using this methodology requires some effort of data collection and modelling assumptions. While sound locally generated data are always preferable for local adaptation planning, a range of additional sources are offered in the text and annexes where available.

The outputs (cost of health damage, cost of adaptation, cost–effectiveness ratio, partial benefit-to-cost ratio and other efficiency indicators) provide estimates for advocacy by local governments and other stakeholders and early adaptation guidance. The outputs from this tool would, however, represent only one of several inputs to be considered in decision-making and policy cycles. Moreover, economic evidence can easily be included in several types of decision-support tools commonly utilized in local governance regarding environmental and adaptation policy.

This tool and its methodology will become part of a comprehensive RAMSES toolkit for urban adaptation, with the overall goal of facilitating local engagement in adaptation planning, policy and implementation.

Click here to download the tool and the accompanying report

II) RAMSES news

The latest research findings of RAMES are published on the RAMSES homepage as RAMSES News. We invite you to have a look.

 

III) New RAMSES research reports

All finalised public Deliverables can be downloaded from our project website www.ramses-cities.eu.

New research reports are:

Urban adaptation effects on urban climate

This report contains the results of the advanced numerical models and on-site measurements on the impacts of adaptation on urban climate through meso and microscale analyses conducted by RAMSES researchers on the case study cities of Antwerp, Paris and Delhi at the mesoscale, and Antwerp and Bilbao at the micro-scale. The outcomes are design and policy guidelines for new and consolidated urban areas.

Cost and economic data for the European Clearinghouse databases

This report presents a new transferable methodology for estimating economy-wide production losses from climate change impacts such as heatwaves and flooding, together with averted losses from adaptation measures. Results for RAMSES core case study cities (London, Antwerp and Bilbao) are presented as cost data for the RAMSES common platform.

Assessment tool to estimate the economic costs of health impacts of climate change

This prototype tool can be used to estimate the economic costs of health impacts of climate change using data for health economic analysis and adaptation activity costs at the local level in the RAMSES cities within the WHO European Region.

Factors of transition and their dynamics 

This report introduces an approach to stimulate the European urban strategies for transition towards sustainable urban development and more resilient cities. A selection of the best approaches for the transition to be applied in European urban environments has been done and theories, frameworks, approaches, methods and tools behind these concepts have been identified and compared. For this selection two main communities’ approaches to this topic have been analysed: the transition community and the climate adaptation community.

IV) RAMSES publications

  • Boettle, M., D. Rybski, J. P. Kropp (2015), Quantifying the Effect of Sea Level Rise and Flood Defence - A Point Process Perspective on Coastal Flood Damage, Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 3, 6229-6269
  • Gudipudi R,, Fluschnik T, Cantu Ros A, Walther C, Kropp JP (2016): City Density and CO2 Efficiency. Energy Policy, 91, 352–361
  • Heidrich, O., Reckien, D., Olazabal, M., Foley, A., Salvia, M., De Gregorio Hurtado, S., Orru, H., Flacke, J., Geneletti, D., Pietrapertosa, F., Hamann, J-P. Tiwary, A, Feliu, E. and R.J. Dawson 2016 National climate policies across Europe and their impacts on cities strategies; Journal of Environmental Management, 168, March 2016, pp. 36-45. JIF- 2.7 
  • Prahl BF, Rybski D, Boettle M, Kropp JP (2015): Damage functions for climate-related hazards: unification and uncertainty analysis Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 3, 6845-6881
  • Tiwary, A, Williams, I. D., Heidrich, O, Namdeo A, Bandaru V and C. Calfapietra. 2016.  Development of multi-functional streetscape green infrastructure using a performance index approach. Environmental Pollution, 208 Part A, January 2016 pp. 209-220. JIF- 4.1
  • Zhou B, Lauwaet D, Hooyberghs H, De Ridder K, Kropp JP, Rybski D (2015): Assessing seasonality in the surface urban heat island of London. Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology, in press

Europe The work leading to these results has received funding from the European Community's Seventh Framework Programme under Grant Agreement No. 308497
Project RAMSES - Reconciling Adaptation, Mitigation and Sustainable Development for Cities.