Dutch city redraws its layout to prepare for global heating effects

Measures include replacing 10% of Arnhem’s asphalt with grass to better cope with heat

The Dutch city of Arnhem is digging up asphalt roads and creating shady areas around busy shopping districts after concluding that the consequences of global heating are unavoidable.

Under a 10-year plan for the city unveiled on Wednesday, a new layout is proposed to better prepare residents for extreme weather conditions such as downpours, droughts and intense heatwaves.

The council has decided that 10% of the asphalt must make way for grasses and other plants to better dissipate heat and improve the city’s absorption of rainfall. A goal has been set for 90% of rainwater to be absorbed into the soil rather than running off into the city’s sewers.

Trees will be planted alongside a network of roads to provide cover from the sun and new “cooling down” spots, complete with ponds and covered areas, will be constructed near busy squares and shopping centres.

Much of the Netherlands sits below sea level and all the county’s urban centres have been asked to do climate stress tests to see how they might adapt to more erratic rainfall patterns, heatwaves and periods of high and low river flows.

Alderman Cathelijne Bouwkamp said the city was leading the way but that the council would also provide grants to residents who proposed ways they might collect rainwater or who installed green roofs.

In its drive to remove 10% of the city’s asphalt, underused roads will be targeted and the municipality is investigating whether recycling or reselling the material will be possible.

Bouwkamp said the city would continue to reduce its carbon emissions as part of the plan. “The energy transition is there to ensure that the city remains liveable in the future,” she said. “We must also adapt to the climate change that is taking place now. Flooding, heat and drought are increasing.”

The Dutch government has pledged to reduce the Netherlands’ greenhouse gas emissions by 49% by 2030, compared with 1990 levels, and to secure a 95% reduction by 2050.


Daniel Boffey in Brussels

The GuardianTramp

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