Copenhagen adaptation measures

Copenhagen is building their city of the future now – rainwater collection and storage, flood prevention, everything to build sustainably with 2100 in sight.

The city’s sustainable climate change adaptation plan should be completed by 2033; with the politicians and local residents on board in support, this looks set to happen. That may seem a while away, but the plans are intended to shape the city into something sustainable for those a few generations away yet. With a concrete set of short term plans – including things like convex main thoroughfares to funnel away stormwater, permeable pavements, heat- and water-storing local parks, and green streets – they’re planning for a long-term horizon. They’ve determined the biggest risk – increased precipitation – and even plan to shrink a local lake to use the extra space as parkland-cum-emergency water storage. The city has a 1-person planning team dedicated solely to this kind of long-term climate adaptation.

Green planning – as opposed to grey planning, which means walls and barriers – will not only make for a better urban quality of life, it also means jobs: financially and environmentally, Copenhagen has seen that it makes sense to do as much as possible on the sustainability front as soon as possible.

Around 20% of the world’s cities now have climate change adaptation programmes, including New York, Toronto, Rotterdam, and Boston. While intergovernmental negotiations move slowly, cities are moving more quickly to address climate change impacts.