Sustainable drainage (SUDS) is well known for its equal emphasis on water quality, water quantity, amenity and biodiversity. What is now beginning to be realised is that this approach can also help mitigate the impacts of global climate change (GCC) and provide assistance to city dwellers in adapting to the changes which have already occurred. By using case studies from around the world, this paper illustrates how vegetated SUDS devices can sequester and store carbon, cool urban areas and increase perceptions of health and well-being in the populace. Both vegetated and hard-engineered structures can evaporate water contained within them and are thus being used in cities to cool the overlying air. Also shown is the extent to which SUDS devices such as green roofs and wet pavements are being used to mitigate the urban heat island effect, which, while not caused by climate change, exacerbates its impacts. Of the houses needed by 2040 in the UK, 80% already exist. In order to take advantage of the ability of SUDS to tackle some of the impacts of GCC, the emphasis must be placed on retrofitting technologies to existing buildings and this review proposes a simple hierarchy of suitable measures based on the density and land-use of the built-up area.

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