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Water, energy and climate benefits of urban greening throughout Europe under different climatic scenarios

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Urban greening is an effective option for mitigating climate change in urban areas. This paper presents an EU-wide assessment to quantify the benefits of urban greening in terms of green water availability, cooling cost reduction and CO2 sequestration from the atmosphere for different climate scenarios. The results show that greening 35% of the EU's urban area would avoid up to 55.8 million tons of CO2 equivalent per year of greenhouse gas emissions and reduce energy demand for cooling buildings in summer by up to 92 TWh per year, which would be equivalent to a net present value of more than 364 billion euros. It would also convert about 10 km3 of rainwater per year into "green" water, equivalent to about 17.5% of the "blue" water that currently drains into cities, helping to reduce pollution of receiving waters and urban flooding. Greening urban surfaces would reduce summer temperatures by 2.5-6°C, with mitigation of the urban heat island effect estimated to have a net present value of 221 billion euros over a 40-year period. The monetized benefits cover less than half of the estimated costs of greening and have a net present value of €1323 billion over the same period. Subtracting the monetized benefits, the cost of greening 35% of urban surfaces in Europe is estimated to be about 60 euros per year per inhabitant. The additional benefits of urban greening in terms of biodiversity, water quality, health, well-being, and other aspects are not monetized in this study, but could be worth this additional cost. If so, urban greening represents a multifunctional, cost-effective solution with no regrets.

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Published in Climate-ADAPT May 02 2022   -   Last Modified in Climate-ADAPT May 02 2022

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