Mitigation refers to reducing greenhouse emissions and concentrations in order to limit the severity of future climate change. The mitigation services provided by green infrastructure include:
- Carbon storage and sequestration - storing carbon in soils and vegetation.
- Providing low carbon fuels - replacing fossil fuels with lower carbon alternatives, including bioenergy, wind and hydro.
- Material substitution - replacing materials such as concrete and steel (which involve high fossil fuel consumption in their production) with sustainably managed wood and other natural materials.
- Food production - providing environmentally sustainable food production that delivers food security.
- Reducing the need to travel by car - providing local recreation areas and green travel routes to encourage walking and cycling.
Adaptation recognises that there is now some inevitable climate change locked into the system. It seeks to build capacity and take action to respond to the likely impacts. The UK Climate Projections suggest warmer wetter winters and hotter drier summers, with more extreme events such as heatwaves, droughts and heavy rainfall. The adaptation services of green infrastructure include:
- Managing high temperatures - particularly in urban areas, where evaporative cooling and shading provided by green infrastructure can ensure that towns and cities continue to be attractive and comfortable places to live, work, visit and invest.
- Managing water resources - green infrastructure can provide places to store water for re-use, allows water to infiltrate into the ground sustaining aquifers and river flows, and can catch sediment and remove pollutants from the water, thereby ensuring that water supply and quality is maintained.
- Managing riverine flooding - green infrastructure can provide water storage and retention areas, reducing and slowing down peak flows, and thereby helping to alleviate river flooding.
- Managing coastal flooding - green infrastructure can provide water storage and retention areas, reducing and slowing tidal surges, and thereby helping to alleviate coastal flooding.
- Managing surface water - green infrastructure can help to manage surface water and sewer flooding by reducing the rate and volume of water runoff; it intercepts water, allows it to infiltrate into the ground, and provides permanent or temporary storage areas.
- Reducing soil erosion - using vegetation to stabilise soils that many be vulnerable to increasing erosion.
- Helping other species to adapt - providing a more vegetated and permeable landscape through which species can move northwards to new 'climate spaces'.
- Managing visitor pressure - providing a recreation and visitor resource for a more outdoors lifestyle, and helping to divert pressure from landscapes which are sensitive to climate change.