Prague planning to face climate change

A proposal calls for more greenery and use of new building materials

The average temperatures in Prague have gradually risen to more 10 degrees Celsius since the 1960s, and the city is looking at ways to mitigate the problem. While 10 degrees does not sound warm, the average takes into account nights and also winter.

The city wants to use green plants help to control the temperature. The city also wants to encourage the use of building colors and materials that reflect heat away rather than trapping it. The proposals are in a strategic document the city prepared to address climate change.

The document says that high temperatures cause health problems in sensitive groups of the population such as seniors and people with cardiovascular or respiratory problems. High temperatures also lead to lower efficiency at work and cause drivers to pay less attention, and therefore cause more accidents.

Some types of buildings and also asphalt roads retain heat and emit it for long periods of time, creating an urban thermal island effect. This makes the city center about 2 degrees Celsius higher than the edge.

The proposal would encourage new trees along streets. “Trees have the ability to release captured water, which significantly contributes to air cooling. They also retain water, and reduce pollutants and greenhouse gases,” the strategic plan states. In many Prague streets, additional infrastructure for trees such as containers is needed to keep their roots from causing damage to underground cables and pipes, for example.

The strategy also proposes that the city should buy land where new greenery could be created. It encourages urban garden colonies, community gardens and greenery in the center of city blocks.

New building materials should be used, according to the study, that are more environmentally friendly in terms of heat retention. Light colored asphalt instead of black is encouraged. Green roofs are also recommended, and the study suggests they could be made mandatory on roofs over 500 square meters.

The city is already in the process of planting more trees in its forest and park lands, and adding more forest land but much of this is at the edge of the city.

Recent renovations to streets such as Belgická have also seen more trees planted although in some cases that was due to public pressure as they were not originally planned.

Despite the city's plan, a community garden in Prague 2 near Riegrovy sady is being closed down so a sports field can be built on the site.

The Czech government in January announced an action plan for adapting to climate change. It will cost more than a billion crowns in total. To prepare forests for climate change, the plan recommends limiting spruce trees, motivating owners not to clear cut woodlands, and restoring wetlands and streams.

In Prague between 1911 and 1960 the temperature was 9.1 degrees Celsius, and between 1961 and 2010 it went up to 10.4 degrees Celsius. Experts from Charles University last year published a study predicting that the average temperature in the Czech Republic will increase by another 2.5 degrees by 2060.

Related article:
Prague plans for climate change - Prague.TV, 13.12.2016

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