A COP26 Plan for Your City
Towns and cities could prove pivotal to saving the planet - so here's a plan for it
COP26 kicks off in November. A gathering of world leaders to do something about climate change. We thought it was the right time for us to wade into the debate. After all, every one else has. And government leaders seem to be better at telling each other how to solve the problem than making progress themselves. So we thought we should tell them what to do - publishing a climate plan for towns and cities.
This is a plan that leaders can delegate down to local, and in a flash, set them up for the fall should we end up going to hell in a hand basket. If, on the other hand, the plan succeeds, it might make them look good and stop us getting gobbled up by a wildfire, typhoon, flood or that new woolly Mammoth project.
Perhaps more staggering than the climate task is how viral a title with the word ‘cop’ in it has become, without any of them having to kneel on the necks of innocent victims. I guess that’s progress for you. COP26 is pretty much all the media has talked about this month. That and Covid’s third wave, Biden’s Kabul and Emma Radu-I-wish-I could-spell-your-name-and-be-as-cool-and-insta-famous-as-you-canu.
Apparently COP26 is a huge shindig, with a bunch of politicians going to a pub in Glasgow (what else would they do there), encouraging each other ‘to take action to keep the global temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius, thus limiting further climate change’. Mmm.
Unfortunately emissions keep rising which means that the headline-driven, click-chasing initiatives have so far made a (net) zero difference!
Politicians love this kind of gathering because it deflects from all the other crap they’ve kicked up. Plus, it helps the media get distracted from Covid, leaving enough energy (other than at British forecourts) to deal with the real issue - the climate crisis.
To speed things along we’ve published this simple ten step plan, with a series of our own little initiatives - chosen because they could make the biggest difference to reducing emissions. You know, so we get to survive the other side and not just stay in power another five minutes.
A handful of countries have developed national approaches to achieving net zero but we believe the actions need to happen at the local level, with buy in from local communities. Local councils and municipalities can move faster than central government. Sadly, the tortoises won't win this one. We're too short of time!
10 Point Net Zero Plan for Cities:
1. An action plan for the people
. The only way a city will be able to pull off net zero emissions by 2030 will be to get as many of their citizens as possible to change their behaviour. To help, we’ ve developed a 10 point climate plan for individuals and households. Think of it as COP26 for those of us left holding the tab.
2. An action plan for business
. Businesses are some of the worsed emitters of carbon - so we may as well delegate some stuff to them. Here’s a climate plan for business. The COP26 for capitalists.
3. Energy: strategies should embrace wind turbines, microgrids, geothermal, solar farms, rooftop solar, wave and tidal, biomass, micro wind, in-stream hydro, waste to energy and energy storage. To accelerate their adoption government leaders could hike oil prices or stimulate panic buying of fossil fuels. Oh wait.
4. Food: to include a plant-rich diet, reduced food waste, green/clean cooking stoves and cookware, nutrient management, composting, conservation agriculture/allotments and irrigation.
5. Women and girls: women have a key role to play in the environmental movement as they generally influence household decisions, purchases and practices. Plus, they’re taking over everything - see Greta. They are more responsible for gardens and small holdings and they spend considerable time educating children and informing their values. They are also ultimately responsible for family planning. Educating women and girls in net zero strategies and environmental approaches could make more of a COP than focusing on men, who struggle to give up their dream of racing a Ferrari - and not the electric one.
6. Buildings and infrastructure: the following components are essential to squeeze into your city development plans - net zero buildings, walkable cities, bike infrastructure, green roofs, LED lighting, heat pumps, smart glass, smart thermostats, district heating, landfill methane, insulation, retrofitting, water distribution and building automation.
7. Land use: make sure to include forest protection, creating new forests and tree planting alongside the development of coastal wetlands, bamboo (more for the Southern hemisphere), peatlands, perennial biomass, local community land management, rewilding and afforestation. Also, develop community learning initiatives around wildlife gardening techniques and urban rewilding.
8. Transport: transport is a key opportunity for any climate city plan. It should include mass transit, high-speed rail, shipping and boats, electric vehicles, ridesharing, electric bikes and e-scooters, cars, aeroplanes, trucks, trains and remote working and learning. Leaders might consider natural capital approaches that could, for instance, combine incentives for good practices as well as taxes or charges for the most polluting behaviours. Education and supportive, positive economic policies will likely be the key. If all else fails, pull out the stick.
9. Materials: this is an area often overlooked but, done right, can make a significant difference to effective net zero strategies. For proven eco materials approaches look at household recycling, industrial recycling, alternative eco-friendly cement, refrigeration, recycled paper, bioplastic and water saving in homes.
10. New eco innovations: there are a number of new innovations and trends that, as they mature, could make a significant difference to achieving and enhancing climate action plans. We believe the following deserve some attention: artificial foods, the 'artificial leaf' project, autonomous vehicles, living buildings, direct air capture, smart highways and roads, hyperloop, smart grids and building with wood.
If you found this 10 point plan useful, feel free to share it with your community and local leaders. They’ll love you for it! Plus, we have just a small window of opportunity to do something about climate change.
If your town or city has started taking concrete actions to reduce carbon emissions then share the eco love and stick it in a comment.
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