Climate action co-benefits and integrated community planning: Uncovering the synergies and trade-offs

Robert Newell
Ann Dale
Apr 2018
Tenth International Conference on Climate Change: Impacts & Responses

Engaging in climate action through integrated sustainability strategies can yield benefits for communities in a more effective way than through compartmentalized approaches. Such strategies can result in co-benefits, that is, community benefits that occur from acting on climate change that extend beyond mitigation and adaptation. For example, creating more walkable cities can be a strategy for reducing greenhouse gases, but can also lead to healthier communities with lower rates of obesity and hypertension. Climate strategies with co-benefits can result in ‘win-win’ situations, and thus comprise best practices for community planning. However, this planning approach also presents challenges, as it requires understanding complex relationships between community development practices and identifying synergies. In addition, some co-benefit strategies might also have associated trade-offs that should be taken into consideration when exploring a particular development path. This research examines climate action co-benefits and trade-offs in order to develop a comprehensive picture of the relationships and potential effects of implementing certain plans and strategies. The research consisted of collecting data on climate action efforts occurring in 11 BC (Canada) communities and coding it to identify climate strategies, co-benefits and trade-offs. Relationships between codes were then identified through a coding matrix, which subsequently were used to build a conceptual model of the multitude of co-benefits and trade-offs that stem from community adaptation and mitigation. Such a model can be used to gain a holistic impression of the advantages and disadvantages associated with different plans and strategies, which in turn can inform integrated community planning and decision-making.