CLIPART – The art of climate planning

In Emilia-Romagna, a well developed region of Italy on the south bank of the Po river, the climate is changing fast. You can tell it for example from a rise in air temperature of more than one degree Celsius in the last twenty years, compared with the former thirty years. Signals of change are also evident in the seasonal distribution and amount of precipitation. At the same time Emilia-Romagna is emitting quite a lot of greenhouse gases, 25-30% more than the national and European average, on a per capita basis. These hard facts emerge from the work carried out at Arpa, the regional environmental protection agency.

The consequences are that both mitigation and adaptation to climate change are very sensitive issues. The regional government and some local councils are striving to include these themes into their public policies, but this is happening in a rather scattered and sometimes contradictory way.

Take adaptation: from the one hand we are coping rather well with problems like heat waves, after the big one of summer 2003, which had dire consequences and induced regional and local authorities to devise and start an effective prevention plan. At the same time no comprehensive adaptation plan and/or white paper is available, describing in general and in detail risks, impacts and measures from the regional and/or local points of view.

Take mitigation: a new regional plan provides a roadmap for the achievement of the European 2020 objectives in the energy production sector but still no general plans for the implementation of emission cuts in all sectors, including for instance transport, agriculture and housing, are available or even in preparation. After the 2007 greenhouse gas inventory, an update is taking place referring to year 2010, and even a number of provincial and municipal inventories are being carried out, but mitigation is not only a matter of inventories, which are essential tools, but are not sufficient to achieve the cuts in GHG emissions needed to cope with climate change.

In this context the idea behind the CLIPART sub-project (Climatic planning and reviewing tools for regional and local authorities) emerged quite naturally. Taking financial management as an example, where budgets are first set and expenses are constantly checked against budgets, we envisage a general methodology for mitigation to be applied by regional and local governments that includes a budgeting phase and a reviewing phase. The budgeting must not only provide general GHG reduction objectives but must also set targets for all sectors, to be discussed and negotiated using procedures similar to the ones used in the financial process of budget setting.

The reviewing phase is more similar to what is usually done in quality management, i.e. comparing what is actually being carried out with the objectives set by the budget, and proposing corrective measures in case of non satisfactory performances.

Even in case of a very effective mitigation activity, the climate will continue to change in the coming decades, due to the inertial effects of the emissions from the past. There is then a need to prevent damages and losses due to the impacts of the new climate, and possibly to exploit new opportunities. This adaptation planning starts from the availability of climate projections coming from the mathematical models used by climatologists, who developed also downscaling methods to pinpoint the expected local changes. Impact studies in all sectors must ensue and finally recommendations and new policies have to be devised. The process has to be carried out at the European, national and at least regional level, though adaptation plans for cities are also appearing.

The CLIPART sub-project is working on all this, detailing the existing situation with useful examples from a review report due this year, and concentrating next year on proposing a handbook with selected procedures and tools in the final report. The very qualified partnership ensures the availability of quite a lot of experience and expertise, and so we expect a successful and useful outcome from the project, ready to be transferred throughout Europe.

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