Carbon zero cities aren't a utopian ideal. It may be late in the climate game, but there's still so much we can do. Let's get started!
Reorganizing our food system provides an opportunity to ratchet down our cities' carbon emissions while also reconnecting them to the natural world.
If we want technology to be a force for good, here are a few things we should keep in mind before we weave it into every element of our carbon-zero cities.
In a carbon zero city, you wouldn't need to own a car -- or even a power drill. Redirecting the stuff we don't use into sharing economies can rewire consumption and save tons of carbon on the way.
The key to carbon zero cities lies not in retrofitting old structures, says Alex Steffen, but in optimizing the tons of new building we'll do over the next 20 years.
The key to climate salvation lies in making our cities denser. Alex Steffen explains why smart "walksheds" pave the way to lower emissions.
People-focused density provides a disproportionate benefit for low-income people. In fact, good city design can be part of what gets people out of poverty. Compact development means increasing the supply of housing. Even if the new homes are being built in an area not affordable to those with low incomes, the increased housing supply helps make other housing more affordable than it would otherwise be. Part of what we need to do to bring housing costs down is build a lot more of it (and refurbish more of what’s there). Many people worry about gentrification. But the reality is that …
To "zero out" our emissions with clean energy, we'd have to replace all the dirty sources we use now -- and do it all over again in 40 years. In chapter 2 of "Carbon Zero," Alex Steffen explains why we need to rethink our whole relationship with energy.
How, where and when we measure our carbon footprint makes a huge difference in what results we get.