A short essay on a critical issue Example

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Climate change has turned out to be a major challenge of our time and has toted up stress in the contemporary society. The consequences of climate change are far reaching and this has led to it being recognized as humanity’s most challenging issue (Romero-Lankao, 2012). Planning has been highlighted to play a critical role in counteracting the dangers of climate change. Planning of urban regions in particular has been the point of interest in the recent past owing to the anticipated dangers of climate change. According to the Planning Institute Australia, planning has a significant contribution in addressing the effects of climate change. In a bid to come up with lasting solutions, a number of studies have emerged and as a result, much has been done with regards to studies related to climate change and city planning. Environmental scholars have always argued that urban centers contribute the highest percentage of greenhouse gases. This has been attributed to their nature of concentrating people, buildings and economic activities. The effects of climate change are far reaching and can be perceived through environmental facet changes such as sea level rise, extremities in temperatures and floods. In spite of the fact that all the blame seems to be directed towards urbanization, they do play a critical role in mitigating the effects of climate change. Kamel-Chaoui & Robert (2009) have argued that cities are the biggest contributors to climate change menace but also play a key role in solving it. A number of constructive steps in mitigating climate change have been instituted and implemented and these efforts run from the national to local level. According to Friesecke, Schetke & Kötter, (2012), the two major global threats; urbanization and climate change need an new emphasis and contributions from all sectors ranging from the local to national level.

Environmentalists have focused their discussions mostly on carbon reduction at the urban level (Betsill & Bulkeley, 2007). These discussions have had a number of contributions towards climate change and they include; highlighting the diffused nature of governance of climate change, policy interventions originating from knowledge and it has also highlighted the gap that exists between these policy interventions and the reality on the ground. In particular, the Kyoto protocol negotiations of 1997 was a critical step in the subject of urbanization and climate change (Betsill & Bulkeley, 2007). Contrary to the past, every factor of governance plays a crucial role in mitigating climate change. Cities for example have recognized the need to gear up for the strong effects of climate change (Carmin, Nadkarni & Rhie, 2012). It is for this reason that cities are coming up with their own policy frameworks to curb climate change. Australian cities are no exception. A perfect epitome of a city that has focused on planning for climate change is Melbourne. The Australian Melbourne city is projected to suffer tremendous effects of climate change which comprise of drought, extremities in temperatures, flooding and sea level rise (Wales, Khanjanasthiti, Savage & Earl, 2012; Rissik & Reis, 2013).

Climate change has affected the development of various cities. This has occurred as a result of mitigation and adaptation strategies being put into consideration and they do affect a wide range of development sectors that are believed to be responsible for greenhouse gas emissions. These sectors include: energy supply, infrastructural sector, buildings sector, industrial sector, agricultural sector , forestry sector and waste management sector. These sectors make up urban development. Notably, urban planning is a key to the achievement of climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies. Adaptation strategies are those strategies that directly impact climate change and they are aimed at minimization and management of its direct effects prior to or as they occur (Adger, Arnell & Tompkins, 2005). On the other hand, mitigation strategies are those strategies aimed at minimizing the severity of consequences of climate change (Mathews, 2011). According to Friesecke, Schetke & Kötter, (2012) four climate change mitigation tasks that are perceived to have major impact on urban development. They comprise of: extent and allocation of settlement development, new housing areas, renovation of energy systems and planning of renewable energy systems (Friesecke, Schetke & Kötter, 2012). In the context of housing, areas meant for new housing offered a wide range of steps of mitigating climate change. For example, the distance and design of the buildings may be done in such a way that it reduces land consumption. Moreover, the current push by environmentalists to move towards renewable sources of energy may adversely affect how the entire construction process will be effected. The prospected temperature rise can be mitigated by construction of buildings that make good use of solar energy and with enough spacing owing to the fact that high temperatures increase the risk of fires (Blakely, 2007) . On the other hand, with regards to renovation of energy systems , the existing buildings need to be put into consideration when planning for the upcoming cities (Friesecke, Schetke & Kötter, 2012). This factor also affects the entire design and construction process for example the ventilation and heating systems. It is quite clear from this that planning for climate change affects the overall outcome of a city.

As earlier stated, Melbourne is a perfect epitome of city planning for climate change. The prospected consequences of climate change likely to affect Melbourne are far reaching. In a bid to curb the perceived drought leading to water shortage, the city government has embarked on harvesting and re-use of rain water (Wales et al., 2012). The year 2009 also marked an onset of another ambitious mitigation strategy dubbed zero net emissions by 2020. The attainment of objectives of this initiative was through the implementation of activities such as retrofitting public buildings, vast business units being constructed as per the required standards, house to house audit program of insulation and space, redesign of transport infrastructure to allow for cycle Melbourne scheme among other factors (Wales et al., 2012). These factors would clearly affect the overall look of Melbourne. Other initiatives taken by the government in Melbourne include; the cool roof technology, urban forest technology, meant to increase vegetation cover in Melbourne from 22% to 40% by 2040, water sensitive urban design guidelines and the establishment of joint organizations (Wales et al., 2012). All these efforts were in a bid to mitigate the dangers of climate change. It is quite evident that it affects the structure of the city at the end of it all.

In conclusion, the convergence of urbanization and climate change pose a major threat to humanity. The two concepts cannot be separated and therefore go hand in hand. As many scholars have proposed, urbanization play a key role in accelerating climate change. Despite this proposition, they are the key players in counteracting climate change. Planning of urban areas is a crucial tool in the mitigation of climate change. Since city planning has a tremendous effect on climate change, it is equally true that climate change shapes cities. The overall outlook of a city will be dependent on planning which puts into consideration the mitigation measures of climate change.


Adger, W.N., Arnell, N.W. & Tompkins, E.L. 2005. ‘Successful Adaptation to Climate Change Across Scales,’ in Global Environmental Change 15: 77-86.

Betsill, M. & Bulkeley, H. 2007. Looking back and thinking ahead: A decade of cities and climate change research. Local Environment, 12(5): 447–456.

Blakely, E. J. 2007. Urban Planning for Climate Change. Lincoln Institute of Land Policy Working Paper. Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.

Carmin, J., Nadkarni, N. & Rhie, C. 2012. Progress and Challenges in Urban Climate Adaptation Planning: Results of a Global Survey. Cambidge, MA: Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Friesecke, F., Schetke, S. & Kötter, T. 2012. Urban Planning for Climate Change-Position Paper of FIG Working Group 8.1

Kamel-Chaoui, L. & A. Robert. 2009. Competitive Cities and Climate Change, OECD Regional Development Working papers No. 2, 2009. OECD.

Mathews, T. 2011. Climate Change Adaptation in Urban Systems: Strategies for Planning Regimes. Urban Research Program Research Paper 32. Griffith University.

Rissik, D. & Reis, N. 2013. City of Melbourne Climate Change Adaptation Strategy and Action Plan. National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility.

Romero-Lankao, P. 2012. Governing Carbon and Climate in the Cities: An Overview of Policy and Planning Challenges and Options. European Planning Studies, 20(1): 7-26.

Wales, N., Khanjanasthiti, I., Savage, S. & Earl, G. 2012. Climate Change Resilience of Melbourne. Sydney: The Climate Institute.