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Georgia Climate Project: How can local governments decrease emissions and adapt to future climate?

We’re down to the last few questions in the Georgia Climate Project Roadmap. Today’s question has to do with research on how local governments of cities and counties can take steps to decrease greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to a warmer and potentially more extreme climate using smart urban planning and design. While politics in Georgia can make it difficult for the state as a whole to respond to climate change, local governments are already starting to take steps to improve their infrastructure to protect against flooding, add renewable energy, and shore up the energy grid, which may be under increased stress from future energy demands for cooling in summer. You can see all of the Roadmap questions at

32. How can cities and counties decrease greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the coming climate from an urban planning and design perspective?

Why this question is important: Land use patterns and built environments, and the infrastructure that supports them (such as transportation), directly influence the levels and concentrations of GHG emissions (Transportation Research Board Institute of Medicine 2005). Using tools such as comprehensive planning, zoning, tax incentives, and negotiated agreements with developers, communities can influence where development occurs and in what form (Meyer and Dumbaugh 2004). Development patterns can also strongly influence how transportation systems and other infrastructure systems are used, further impacting future GHG emissions. Therefore, it is necessary to undertake more research to understand how communities should adjust their existing and planned infrastructure to account for these impacts. There is a need to identify which GHG-reducing and adaptation methods and tools for implementing these strategies should be available to Georgia communities, and the likely benefits and costs associated with each.