Alex Steffen, a long time climate change campaigner, journalist and founder of online magazine www.worldchanging.com recently gave an inspiring talk at www.ted.com which I wanted to share with you here.
Steffen explains that in the developed world, our response to climate change has focused largely on a transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy which he says is a recipe for disaster. Not because renewable energy is a bad idea, but because the trajectory of emissions growth posed by a rapidly urbanising world is likely to outstrip any capacity we have for building new clean energy infrastructure to meet it.
He argues that our focus on ‘clean energy’ actually misses the main game – which is to dramatically reduce the energy intensity of our cities.
He is optimistic that this can be done and cites a number of thresholds which can be reached that provide dramatic reductions in energy use – from transport, to buildings, to simple resource sharing. Imagine if you will, how much energy went into making all of the hand drills and lawnmowers that most of us have lying idle in our sheds and garages – what happens if we design cities with access to resource capacity and the services they can provide, rather than resource ownership in mind?
Steffen is optimistic about the opportunities that cities provide in our fight against climate change – if we can start thinking differently about them differently.
Check out the video here: Alex Steffen: The shareable future of cities