Envisioning the Future: A Methodology for City-scale Carbon Management

By Rosemary Bailey, James Longhurst, Enda T. Hayes, Lorraine Hudson, K.Vala Ragnarsdottir and Joshua Thumim.

Published by The International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Approximately half the world’s population now lives in urban areas, and about 70% will be city dwellers by 2050. The IEA’s World Energy Outlook 2008 estimates the global energy and energy related carbon dioxide (CO₂) emission contributions of cities are 67% and 71% respectively. They therefore represent a concentration of carbon dioxide-emitting activities, but equally provide substantial opportunities for effective mitigation. Although international action on climate change is essential, local mitigation will deliver many of the carbon savings, and consequently, cities will play an important role. However, closing the gap between ‘where we are now’ and ‘where we need to be’ can be problematic, given the all-encompassing nature of the problem and its cause, and the long timescales involved. Using the example of Bristol in south west England, this paper presents a methodology to overcome such a problem. By engaging local stakeholders through an innovative Delphi-like process, a number of low-carbon scenarios for the future city-region can be imagined. By subsequently using backcasting techniques, together with conventional forecasting, a robust pathway from the present to a future desirable low-emission city can be described. This will bring benefits to planning and policy making, by providing a low emission-pathway beyond the short term, and creates buy-in from key stakeholders through the Delphi-process, who have helped to define the city’s future.

Keywords: Carbon Management, Mitigation, Cities, CO₂, Climate Change, Emission Scenarios, Low-carbon Futures, Backcasting, Delphi

International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses, Volume 2, Issue 4, pp.51-66. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.051MB).

Rosemary Bailey

PhD Student, School of the Built and Natural Environment, Faculty of Environment and Technology, University of the West of England, Bristol, UK

Rosemary Bailey is a final year PhD student at the University of the West of England, researching the low carbon futures for the Bristol city region, using forecasting, Delphi methods for scenario creation, and backcasting techniques.

Prof. James Longhurst

Associate Dean and Professor of Environmental Science, School of the Built and Natural Environment, Faculty of Environment and Technology, University of the West of England, Bristol, UK

Jim Longhurst is Professor of Environmental Science and Associate Dean in the Faculty of Environment and Technology at the University of the West of England.

Dr. Enda T. Hayes

Senior Research Fellow, Air Quality Management Resource Centre, School of the Built and Natural Environment, Faculty of Environment and Technology, University of the West of England, Bristol, UK

Enda Hayes is a Senior Research Fellow in the Air Quality Management Resource Centre at the University of the West of England.

Dr. Lorraine Hudson

Climate Change & Built Environment Co-Ordinator, Sustainable City Group, Bristol City Council, Bristol, UK

Lorraine Hudson is the Climate Change & Built Environment Co-ordinator at Bristol City Council.

Prof. K.Vala Ragnarsdottir

Dean, School of Engineering and Natural Sciences, University of Iceland, Reykjavik, Iceland

Kristin Vala Ragnarsdóttir is Dean of the School of Engineering and Natural Sciences and Professor of Earth Sciences at the University of Iceland.

Joshua Thumim

Head of Research and Policy Analysis, Centre for Sustainable Energy, Bristol, UK

Joshua Thumim is Head of Research and Policy Analysis at the Centre for Sustainable Energy, Bristol.

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