Land-use transport models for climate change mitigation and adaptation planning

Alistair Ford, Richard Dawson, Phil Blythe, Stuart Barr


The adoption of the Paris Agreement has committed the world to limiting anthropogenic climate change to 2°C above preindustrial levels, adapting to climate risks, and fostering climate resilience. Given the high proportion of global emissions released by cities and the concentration of people living in urban areas, this will require an unprecedented reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and transformation of the built environment on a yet unparalleled timescale. This poses substantial challenges for urban land-use and transport planning and for the use of land-use transport models (LUTM), which have historically been developed to test incremental changes rather than the rapid transformations implied by the Paris Agreement.
This paper sets out the need for a new generation of tools to support the planning of a transition toward a low-carbon and resilient future, arguing that land-use and transport modeling tools are crucial to support this process. Recent developments in urban integrated assessment that link models of land-use and transport with other environmental models of greenhouse gas emissions and climate hazards show promise as platforms to assess the potential of urban policies in achieving the goals set out in the Paris Agreement.

The paper concludes by defining challenges for the LUTM community if it is to achieve these goals. Crucial will be the adoption of new modeling approaches to better represent rapid social and technological change and to concurrently assess the resilience and sustainability implications of different land-use and transport policies. Simple models to explore multiple scenarios of change must be integrated with more sophisticated models for detailed design. Collaborative approaches will be necessary to allow multiple stakeholders to use these tools to explore urban futures and design radical urban transitions across multiple and interdependent urban sectors.


planning, climate change, sustainability, mitigation, adaptation, integrated assessment

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