Next months, these posts deal with the challenges of Earthlings of bringing humane cities closer. These posts represent the most important findings of my e-book Humane cities. Always humane. Smart if helpful, updates and supplements included. The English version of this book can be downloaded for free here and the Dutch version here.
After the eradication of Covid-19, the world must focus again on the two epoch-making challenges, mitigation of global warming and fighting poverty. According to the World Economic Forum, the mayor threats of humanity. By selecting proper policy tools, both challenges can be addressed at once
The termination of greenhouse gas emissions in 2050 requires huge investments, roughly $ 50 to $ 200 per ‘saved’ cubic meter CO2-equivalents. At the same time, these investments provide a global economic stimulus of $ 16,600 billion.
Addressing global warming
In summary, municipal authorities worldwide have to work together with all stakeholders, citizens not in the last place, to reduce global warming, and implement a series of activities such as:
- Covering all suitable roofs with solar panels;
- Installing wind turbines in seas adjacent to densely populated areas;
- Creating sufficient storage options for the short and medium term;
- Creating ‘smart grids’ to manage the production and consumption of electricity;
- Heating houses with district heating systems powered by industrial residual heat, hydrogen or heat pumps;
- Reducing energy use through insulation, efficient use of buildings and smart thermostatic systems;
- Scrutinizing the necessity of new construction and take care that it apples to BREEAM requirements;
- Using ‘green’ hydrogen for industrial processes
- Using biotechnology to remove oil, coal and gas from industrial production
- Reducing use of cars (electric ones included) by urban design, enabling walking and cycling opportunities by public transport and by MaaS.
- Replace where possible flying by traveling by train
- Reuse of waste at the highest possible level;
- Intensification of responsible production of food;
- Adjustment of consumption patterns like mitigating the use of meat.
Despite the magnitude of the challenge involved by the transition to climate-neutral cities, there is reason for optimism. Money is not the big issue. The required investments will pay for themselves in the long term and the transition to clean technology will contribute to responsible economic growth. However….
The overriding limitation is the lack of skilled labor and here is the connection with fighting poverty. The transition to an energy-neutral society will offer ample job opportunities. That is why care for jobs, a reasonable income, adequate housing and education go hand in hand with combating global warming. Jobs are the best guarantee for a reasonable income and job opportunities are an incentive to invest in education.
It is already ten years ago, that the United nations called for a ‘Global Green New Deal’ in which developed countries would invest at least 1% of GDP on reducing carbon dependency, while developing economies should spend 1% of GDP on improving access to clean water and sanitation for the poor as well as strengthening social safety nets.
At this moment Green New Deal programs are at the brim of implementation in the US (What a relief!!!!), Canada and Europe as well. These programs are achieving net-zero carbon emissions in the next decades and potentially create millions of well-paying jobs in order to create the necessary infrastructure and to reduce the number of poor, work- or homeless people correspondingly. Add to that protection against monopolies, investments in public transport, access to affordable housing and healthy food, and justice for the historically marginalized people in the transition to a new economy.
If these promises become true, the eradication of Covid-19 will be followed by significant steps towards a more humane world.