Torino-to-Portland Dialogues: Planning and Implementing Climate Change Actions
An ever-growing number of cities are turning their growth and climate challenges into an opportunity to rethink their urban metabolism and patterns of development. Urban systems are responsible for high environmental impacts, accounting for more than 70 percent of CO2 energy-related emissions globally. This can be attributed to the complex systems of cities, where materials flow in a linear way, instead of in a circular one. This raises serious problems such as material depletion, enormous waste generation, and climate change. In 2017–2018, the Transatlantic Climate Cities Lab (TCL) project of the German Marshall Fund of the United State convened peer-to-peer learning workshops with experts and practitioners in the United States and Europe experienced in the visioning, planning, and implementation of climate action agendas. This brief looks at on the key lessons from the exchange of ideas between the cities of Portland, Oregon in the United States and Torino in Italy on these issues.
Portland has been a frontrunner in climate-change action in the United States since the 1990s, with a reputation for cross-departmental, cross-sector, and multilevel governance, as well as with positive track record in stakeholder engagement and increasing citizens’ awareness and behavioral change. This brief highlights in particular cross-departmental coordination within government as a foundational step to effective climate action planning. It outlines the contexts in both cities and the key transatlantic insights into planning and implementing a climate action plan that resulted from the Torino-Portland peer-to-peer exchange.
Starting Point: Torino
Home to the FIAT automobile factory, which opened in 1923, Torino became the industrial capital of Italy. This led to dramatic urbanization and to population growth of the city at an uncontrollable pace, as well as to labor tension and social unrest. In 1969 FIAT reached a peak of 158,000 employees. The end of automobile manufacturing in Torino in 1982 marked the end of an era with more than 100,000 jobs related to the automotive industry lost between 1980 and 1996. A post-industrial cityscape emerged, with approximately 2,500 acres of vacant industrial sites by 1989 and roughly a quarter of its population moving away. The challenges generated by this social and economic transformation were enormous.
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