Friday, May 22, 2009

Dreaming of Freiburg

At last, Europe has a model of a green city.

Collective inertia has kept us for decades saying how impractical it would be to:

  • remove cars from large sections of a city
  • source large amounts of food from local farmers and suppliers
  • build highly-energy-efficient houses and public buildings
  • prioritise residential neighbourhoods for use by pedestrians and cyclists
  • develop a mass transportation system that is cost-effective and efficient
  • harness solar power on a large-scale
  • blah, blah, blah
Meanwhile, while sitting on our backsides explaining why it couldn't be done, the German city of Freiburg has transformed itself into something of a model of a modern sustainable city.

No doubt, people who are more knowledgeable about these matters than I am will explain why the German dream city is not quite as environmentally sound as it might otherwise be. All I know is that its city council - run by the Green Party - has achieved some major successes while the rest of us are living in car-infested cities, wasting energy as if it grew on trees (boom, boom) and eating processed food that has traveled half way round the world.

Just shows what politics can achieve.

Meanwhile, Wales has set ambitious and legally binding targets for reducing greenhouse gases by committing to becoming energy self-sufficient through using renewable electricity within 20 years and to reducing waste to zero by 2050.

The proposals would make Wales one of only three countries in the world legally bound to develop "sustainably".

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