Celebrating #WorldCitiesDay - Adapting Cities for Climate Resilience

Author: Vahid M. Nik, Associate Professor at Lund University and scientific coordinator of the COLLECTiEF project

Cities and urban areas play a significant role in the path towards sustainability and climate change mitigation. Almost two-thirds of the global primary energy use is attributed to urban areas accommodating 3.5 billion people, which leads to 71% of global direct energy-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The projected population growth in urban areas together with climate change and economic growth will place greater stress on vital resources, including energy. Low-carbon and resilient strategies are needed when preparing cities for the future. This requires a notable change in the energy infrastructure and management systems, for example through smart control of buildings and integrating renewable energy technologies.

Rather than just aiming for decarbonizing the energy systems and climate change mitigation, it is essential to plan for climate change adaptation as well. Renewable energy generation and the energy performance of buildings are highly affected by climate conditions. Climate change can induce intensified climate variations and consequently stronger and more frequent extreme events. The frequency of some extreme events has increased over the last 30 years and more weather-related disasters are expected in the future. In Europe, increases are expected in heatwaves with shorter return periods, droughts, wildfires, river and coastal floods, and windstorms. Such extreme conditions can affect two-thirds of the European population by 2100. The scale of extreme weather events can increase in urban areas (e.g. by cascading failures) due to the existence of complex interconnected urban systems. We should make our urban energy solutions climate-resilient. A resilient system should be able to respond to change and bounce back towards stability after an extreme event.

In COLLECTiEF we develop an energy management system based on collective intelligence (CI). CI is a form of universally distributed intelligence that works based on collaborative problem-solving and decision-making. This makes CI systems robust, flexible, and scalable. Moreover, CI systems can adapt to uncertain and unknown environments autonomously organise themselves. This makes CI systems flexible and consequently more resilient against environmental variations or external shocks. Considering the characteristics of CI systems and knowing that empowering the autonomous operation of energy systems can improve their resilience, COLLECTiEF will develop CI-based energy solutions that are climate-resilient.

 

ABOUT WORLD CITIES DAY

World Cities Day was established in 2013 by the United Nations General Assembly in its resolution A/RES/68/23. It aims to promote the international community's interest in global urbanization, push forward cooperation among countries in meeting opportunities and addressing challenges of urbanization, and contribute to sustainable urban development around the world. The observance day ties in with Sustainable Development Goal 11, to make cities "inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable".

Learn more here.

 

REFERENCES

Nik VM, Perera ATD, Chen D. “Towards climate resilient urban energy systems: A review”, National Science Review, March 2021, 8, 3. doi:10.1093/nsr/nwaa134.

Nik VM, Moazami A. “Using collective intelligence to enhance demand flexibility and climate resilience in urban areas”, Appl Energy 2021;281:116106. doi.org/10.1016/j.apenergy.2020.116106