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Dutch City Changes Layout

Envisioning the future, Arnhem decides to take action now.

The Dutch city of Arnhem is digging up roads and creating shady areas around busy shopping districts after concluding that the consequences of global heating are unavoidable. Under a recently announced 10 year plan for the city, a new layout is envisaged to better prepare its citizens for extreme weather conditions such as downpours, severe heatwaves and droughts.

The city has decided that 10% of the asphalt needs to be replaced by grass and other plants to better dissipate heat and improve Arnhem's absorption of rainfall. The target is for 90% of rain to be absorbed into the soil rather than washing away into the city’s sewers.

Numerous trees will be planted alongside the road network to provide shade and new “cooling down” areas, complete with ponds and covered pavilions, will be built beside busy squares and shopping precincts.

Famously, much of the Netherlands lies below sea level and all the county’s metropolitan 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, reports The Guardian.

The Alderman of Arnhem, 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.

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