Report

  • A new report published by the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, an organization aimed at helping the world’s societies to combat the effects of climate change, suggests that the costs of combating climate change are considerably lower than widespread opinion has suggested. The report suggests that implementing the fixes necessary to transition to entirely sustainable sources of energy would amount to USD 4 trillion over the next 15 years. This total is a mere 5% increase of the amount that is estimated to be spent on new power plants, transit systems, and other infrastructure over the same period. While economically feasible, the reports recommended changes are expected to face a tough political reception.

    The report urges countries to cease subsidies for fossil fuels and transition to renewable sources of energy alongside the adoption of a wide variety of initiatives to encourage, for instance, more efficient land use and combatting forest fires. The report’s suggested actions require long years of hard work and an optimistic vision of the future, but its authors argue that these practices already have real world proof in major metropolitan centers all over the world.

    Read more about the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate and the Better Growth, Better Climate report at their website.

     

  • A recently completed study by the Dutch sustainability research center Telos, with the support of the Dutch Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations (The Hague), found Northern European cities ranked highest in terms of sustainability, with Espoo, Finland rising to the top of the pack.

    The study assessed a total of 145 European cities according to a broad definition of sustainability which included economic and social aspects alongside the ecological, totaling in 86 indicators. Telos believes the findings are a useful tool for EU cities aiming to improve their own sustainability. The report provides a clear indication of the factors determining sustainability while a supplementary web tool offers a simple method for cities to compare their own status with those of other European cities.

    This analysis and the associated comparison tool support European cities in their efforts to achieve the ambitious climate reduction targets set out in the Paris accords.

    Read the full study and see the comparison tool in action.

  • A new study by the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA) has found that a mere 13% of companies have sufficient skills in the area of sustainability management to respond to the coming challenges posed by climate change, resource shortages, and population increases. Not only will this skill gap lead to many companies being unable to capitalize on the great business opportunities offered by increased sustainability, but this will also make their current operations increasingly less efficient and feasible.

    In response, the IMEA has drafted a Sustainability Skills Action Plan to respond to this challenge. The plan lays out a four point approach to help business build up the necessary sustainability skills without sacrificing their current business. The plan has already received support from several global leaders, such as Jaguar Land Rover, WSP, Rolls Royce, and EDF Energy.

    Read more: IMEA Sustainability Skills Action Plan

     

  • Providing a strong start for the road forward, 21 European countries have already established national policies for adapting to climate change, according to a survey by the European Environment Agency. Of the 30 European countries surveyed, more than three fourths of the respondents listed extreme weather events among the major factors in inciting climate change planning, the second most popular reason cited was a response to European Union policies.

    While many of the countries reported a lack of resources such as time, money, or technologies as impeding progress, commitment remains very high as these governments have recognized the need for adapting to climate change and are highly motivated to continue this development. A total of 13 countries have already begun to implement concrete adaptation policies, moving beyond the planning stage and into action.

    This strong commitment among European nations signals a positive commitment to fixing concrete adaptation policies that will support the drive to establish increasingly binding, global commitments in the years to come.

    Read the survey results in full at the European Environment Agency’s website 

  • A new report published by the European Environment Agency (EEA), The European Environment – State and Outlook 2015(SOER 2015),provides an interesting perspective on the state of the European Union’s environment and the success of the region and individual countries in progressing towards the climate goals set out for them in national and EU strategy for 2020, 2030, and beyond. The report is based on environmental information and data sourced from the European Environment Information and Observation Network, a network of 39 countries.

    The SOER 2015 report is divided into three categories, a synthesis repot which assess the European environment from a global perspective as well as the prevailing trends and the state of the environment in Europe, an assessment of 11 global megatrends and their relevance for Europe, and a series of briefings on all 39 individual countries and regions in the area. The synthesis report aims to support the implementation of the European environmental policy from 2015 on, helping to increase the efficiency of these efforts in the lead up to 2020.

    Building on the results of an assessment of the prevailing environmental trends in Europe, the report reaches a conclusion regarding the persistent, systemic challenges facing European countries as they strive to mitigate the effects of climate change. The trends assessed in the report are divided into three categories: Protecting, conserving, and enhancing natural capital; Resource efficiency and the low-carbon economy; and Safeguarding from environmental risks to health.

    The report concludes that, despite some of the positive progress made on the level of individual trends, the outlook is not altogether promising:

    “In summary, the systemic and transboundary nature of many long-term environmental challenges are significant obstacles to achieving the EU's 2050 vision of living well within the limits of the planet. Europe's success in responding to these challenges will depend greatly on how effectively it implements existing environmental policies and takes necessary additional steps to formulate integrated approaches to today's environmental and health challenges.”

    The country assessments included in the report provide a perspective on the role which regional policies and efforts in the larger context of the findings of the Europe-wide report while a series of thematic comparison reports compare the various countries’ environments to each other and illuminate the successes and prospects within each category.

    Read the SOER 2015 report at the EEA’s website 

  • The United Nations Environment Programme’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published, in November 2014, its Fifth Assessment Report on the effects of climate change in today’s environment and its potential future consequences. The latest report followed the pattern of the previous four reports, with its predictions growing ever more dire and the need for action ever more imminent. The report highlights a few key take aways:

    1. “Human influence on the climate system is clear, and recent anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases are the highest in history. Recent climate changes have had widespread impacts on human and natural systems.”
    2. Continued emission of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems. Limiting climate change would require substantial and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions which, together with adaptation, can limit climate change risks.
    3. Adaptation and mitigation are complementary strategies for reducing and managing the risks of climate change. Substantial emissions reductions over the next few decades can reduce climate risks in the 21st century and beyond, increase prospects for effective adaptation, reduce the costs and challenges of mitigation in the longer term, and contribute to climate-resilient pathways for sustainable development.
    4. Many adaptation and mitigation options can help address climate change, but no single option is sufficient by itself. Effective implementation depends on policies and cooperation at all scales, and can be enhanced through integrated responses that link adaptation and mitigation with other societal objectives.

    Read the key takeaways in a summary report at the IPCC’s website 

    Read more about the report here 

Programs

Reframing City Districts (ReCiDi)

A research project conducted by the Universities of Turku and Tampere which aims to form a new conceptual framework which will help shape the collective identity and common vision necessary to realize the future low-carbon and sustainability targets.

Systemic Architectures for Sustainable Urban Innovation (SASUI)

An action learning and research project conducted by Aalto University and the University of Tampere which aimed to form a better understanding of the architectural requirements for successful innovation projects.