Arquivo de etiquetas: Cidades Resilientes

Sustainable Cities V

Planning for Sustainable Development

Sustainable cities are green and resilient. They’re green in that they have a low ecological impact, low greenhouse gas admissions per capita a pleasantnenvironment for people to live and to work, safe, clean air,parks ways for people to remain active and healthy. They’re also resilient in that they know that increased shocks are on the way. That in the age of the anthropocene, storm surges, heat waves, massive floods, droughts, food insecurity, unfortunately will be real and growing threats in the future that must be anticipated. Smart cities plan in smart ways with transport infrastructure, power systems, water and sewerage, in smart grids, in smart zoning that enables them to be green and resilient. And

1154I’d like to just speak for a few minutes about one example of such planning in my own city, in New York City, because I think that New York has been doing a good job of planning for sustainable development, thinking ahead understanding the risks and the challenges. Now, it got a major kick in the pants with, and worse than that with the super storm, super storm Sandy, in November 2012. The massive flooding that ensued, the power blackouts, loss of life and property were shocking the estimates are perhaps $50 billion or $60 billion lost as a result of that super storm at the same time in looking at what might be done to reduce the risks of flooding. It’s clearer that the costs are also going to be high. So choosing properly new infrastructure zoning, location, policies preparedness is absolutely crucial and core to a city that, that looks ahead.

The price tags look to be Even tens of billions of dollars of preparation against future floods. So what can we learn from New York City’s planning and what does it imply for how other cities around the world can take up the challenge of sustainable development. As you see here a, timeline of cities that are adopting sustainability plans. New York was not the first in the United States. A pride of, of, of being first goes to our two cities in the north west of the United States. Two very green cities, Portland and Seattle, with a wonderful and rightly deserved reputation for great environmental sensitivity. Back in 1994, already they looked to sustainability, how they could reduce greenhouse gas emissions and how they could be resilient to climate change.

1153Other cities began this kind of serious planning and New York City was relatively early in adopting what is called Plan YC in 2007. Many, many cities around the world are now doing this kind of planning, Copenhagen with a major program in 2009, Rotterdam in 2010. And cities around the world now adopting sustainable development plans. As the UN itself adopts sustainable development goals, this I hope and anticipate will be a major spur to hundreds more cities around the world, thousands more cities that should be taking on this challenge of looking ahead to how best to be green and resilient. What does plan YC call for? It has ten goals that are important to note. First is housing and neighborhoods. Anticipating changes of population New York anticipates a continuing rise of population. Perhaps another million people within the next couple of decades. And making sure that housing is affordable and sustainable is part of any forward looking plan.

1152Parks and public spaces, vital for quality of life and for public health. Cleaning up polluted areas, so-called brown fields, is a third goal. Waste fills dumping sites that are dangerous for local communities, for the water supply and that deprive New York of valuable land that could best be used for other purposes. Improving the quality of water ways for transport, for recreation, for safety, for coastal ecosystems is a fourth goal. Ensuring the safety and adequacy of New York City’s water supply is obviously an absolutely central objective for sustainability. Sixth is transportation. A robust, resilient, efficient, low-cost Ecologically sound public transportation system for, used for the community and for the enormous business sector of the New York City region. Energy, energy efficiency, energy reliability, avoiding the kinds of massive blackouts and shutdowns that occurred during Super Storm Sandy. Being much more energy efficient as part of the overall Greenhouse gas mitigation strategy. Improved air quality, to keep particulate pollution low, to keep air quality as high as possible. Solid waste management, to get away from the traditional landfill model with all its high costs and loss opportunities, and to look for new strategies, for instance, waste to energy, and much more recycling. And finally, mitigation of climate change. New York already has a per capita CO2 emission that is less than a third of the national average. But at six tons per capita that’s still going to be far higher than what the worlds standards will need to be. Something closer to between one and two tons per capita, as of mid century. So New York, like the rest of the United States, is going to have to become a lot more efficient and a lot less carbon intensive in its energy system to reduce sharply the green house gas emissions.

These are 10 major goals of Plan YC. They have been, been scrutinized by experts both outside city government itself and by the city government and by various regional bodies to determine best approaches. As we’ve seen, cities need to innovate, they need to be clever to secure their water supplies, to secure their safety from coastal storm surges. They need to be specific. There is nothing that can be taken straight off the shelf when it comes to a city because of the unique conditions geographic conditions, risk conditions, cultural conditions, economic conditions that have to help shape a sustainable development plan.Let’s look at a few of the kinds of innovations that New York City is adapting.First, our smart roofs and local adaptations in the thousands and thousands of buildings across the city.To reduce the urban heat island. To help keep New York cooler in the summers. To be more efficient in the management of of water to stop Over flows of sewerage and storm surges. And one way to do that is smart roofs including green roofs. This is a picture of farming taking place on one of New York’s roof tops. Which allows for better water management. Less water run off and sewerage problems and of course a commercial farming activity that successfully is developed from this. This is a picture of another step of New York City transport. Public transportation dominates the New York scene. Personal automobile ownership per household is among the lowest in the United States for an urban area. In one important way that New Yorkers and the large numbers of tourists get around of course is through the taxi fleet. And New York is moving now towards electrification of the taxi fleet. This is an experimental vehicle starting with a few electric vehicles to adapt and fine tune a, an electric fleet for the city. On top of New York’s buildings also when it isn’t growing food it can be solar powered. There is a huge expansion of using solar arrays in open spaces in New York. As the grid becomes smarter these solar arrays will not only feed the local structures on which they’re located, but can become part of a smart grid feeding power to the overall, to the overall grid. A lot of buildings are converting from dirtier energy sources to cleaner energy sources. This is one of the keys to avoid that kind of massive smog that hit Beijing in January 2013, and used to hit cities like New York and London. New York and London moved away from coal burning within the city many years ago, cleaned up smoke sca, smoke stacks with smoke stack scrubbers. Try that one on for size. And reduce particulates. Now there is a strong move on to reduce particulates further by moving away from heating oil, for example used in furnaces and boilers in many parts of the city moving towards electrification of heating or to cleaner energy sources, such as, natural gas. The line shown here is showing the number of buildings that have already converted from heavy fuel use and there’s already been a significant decline of particulate emissions in New York City as a result of this conscious policy.

1151As part of Plan YC, New York has adopted a goal of reducing New York’s carbon dioxide emissions by 30% by the year 2030. This is quite notable for a lot of reasons. One is that the federal government has no such policy. What’s happening in the United States is that while the federal government is gridlocked, many cities and states are taking actions on their own, because they know that that gridlock has to be broken sooner or later. And that all over the world we’re going to need to de-carbonize energy systems. And it makes no sense, even if it’s not required right now, simply to put ones head in the sand and say, I’m not going to worry about carbon emissions until it is required. Because no city wants to wake up with a high carbon intensity energy system that then requires very high cost retrofitting. So, New York is rightly thinking ahead even if the U.S. Federal Government is not yet thinking ahead. And from the business as usual scenario to reduce by roughly 30% will require action in several areas. First is efficient buildings. Buildings that use their energy far more effectively that depend on natural heating and cooling by internal ventilation systems that are greener and less energy intensive than in the past. By cogeneration systems and recycling systems within buildings. By better insulation and materials that are chosen to allow for a much lower use of power for heating and cooling. Second is a cleaner energy supply. One that moves away from fossil fuels to renewable energy, like the solar arrays on New York’s roofs or by bringing in renewable energy from a greater distance. New York has plans to bring in more hydroelectric power, from Canada, through long distance transmission lines as part of it’s strategy for reducing CO2 emissions. Moving to sustainable transportation is obviously a third component reducing the emissions from internal combustion engines. Moving the fleets to electrification, moving to more mass transit, to more walking, to more bicycling is part of an overall strategy for reducing CO2 emissions. And then finally a fourth category is managing solid wastes.

We know that waste fills are a loss in two ways. They’re a loss directly in the methane that they emit from the from the landfills a major greenhouse gas. And they’re also a loss in the lost opportunity. The opportunity cost that comes when that methane just goes into the air rather than being collected. In bio-digesters, digesting the cities organic wastes, converting it to electricity and the co-generation.  If Ankara, Turkey can do it, other cities around the world can and should do it, as well. Take an example. If Denmark and, other places in Scandinavia are using waste gas for electricity generation and for co-generation of heat, then certainly New York city and other cities can do the same. So, this is what planning ahead means. Very detailed. In this case there is engineering insight, there is public policy insight, and there are economic incentives or disincentives put on in the form of taxes, regulation, penalties, and so forth, in order to encourage all aspects, of, energy and transport systems to move in the desired direction. One of the final aspects of Plan YC that is extremely important is its set of metrics. Here, you see a dashboard. The dashboard describes for each category of goal, specific quantification of what the goals are supposed to accomplish, the most recent figures, and then in the right-hand column an arrow up or an arrow down. Is the city making progress, or is it falling further behind the goals? The fact that you see a lot of progress a lot of greens in the dashboard is a good sign. The fact that there are problems areas still is an indication of where increase public policy focus is needed. This kind of metric based on quantified goals, real time or fairly continuous and updated monitoring, a dashboard of progress or regress, and then a feedback loop to change and improve public policies lies at the essence of successful implementation of a sustainable development plan. It is at the core of what all countries will need to do when sustainable development goals are the worlds shared objectives. For the post 2015 development agenda. And when all governments will need to construct dashboards like this on water supplies, on transport, on CO2 emissions, on energy, on the other dimensions of sustainable development. To track progress, to monitor, to hold governments and ourselves accountable. And to help create the feedbacks of information so that we can accelerate progress and succeed in shifting the world economy and our cities onto a path of sustainable development.

Sustainable Cities IV

Urban Resilience

Cities can choose to be efficient and to have a low carbon emissions per capita as well as other low ecological impacts by choosing the right kind of infrastructure.

Cities also have to plan for the future, a future of rising ecological shocks. Coming from human induced climate change and other trends that are underway. We have to be aware, it’s straightforward, but bears emphasizing that even if humanity does everything it ought to do to head off the worst of climate change. We are still going to be living through decades where average temperatures will be rising and where the number of extreme climate-related events, whether it’s storms, or floods, or droughts, or heatwaves, is going to increase in frequency. This is partly simply a result of inertia of the earth’s climate system. Temperatures have increased on average, worldwide, by about 0.8 of one degree centigrade on the planet since the start of the industrial revolution until today, because of human induced climate change. But even if there were no more increase of the greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere. The planet would continue to warm, just based on what’s happened til now. And that’s because while land has warmed up in response to the greenhouse gas effect, the oceans are still adjusting. The oceans, they’re big bath tubs that take a long time to warm up. So, they have, what the scientists call, thermal inertia. They have not yet caught up with the warming potential coming from the higher greenhouse gas concentrations. As the oceans continue to warm, average temperatures on Earth will continue to rise, even at today’s greenhouse gas concentrations. We could have another 0.6 degrees Centigrade, for example, simply through this catching up effect, as the oceans continue their rise. Of course, we are nowhere near stopping the rise of greenhouse gas concentrations as well, so we’re going to have continuing impacts through more human induced climate change, even as we struggle now to slow down the human impacts and eventually curb them all together. The point is that climate change is with us. It’s going to get worse in the future. And cities have to raise their resiliency in the face of a higher frequency of shocks on the way. What are some of those shocks? Well, heat waves, of course, will be among them. We know that the frequency of intense heat waves is on the rise, and it’s going to get worse.

1141This is life threatening, especially for elderly people. It needs to be planned for. Water supplies will be under threat in many places in the world. As climate change means changing patterns of precipitation, lower river flow, receding and eventually disappearing glaciers, meaning that what are now a city’s water supply sources could come under serious threat. The rise of ocean levels is another concern of profound significance since the world’s major urban agglomerations are at the coast and as the sea level rises, the kind of devastation that New York City experienced in Hurricane Sandy will become more commons. Major storm surges, major flooding will hit urban areas. Droughts will become more frequent in certain parts of the world, such as the Mediterranean Basin. We know that human induced climate change will cause some places to dry, other places to become wetter. The general principle is, dry places will tend to become drier, wetter places today will tend to become wetter. There are a lot of exceptions to that. More instability and unpredictability ahead, but there certainly are some relatively dry regions, such as southern Europe and north Africa, that are going to become drier and the major cities along the Mediterranean Basin. Some of the world’s great, most historic cities will be under threat of more prolonged droughts. This will contribute, as well, to food insecurity in many cities. And we know that political upheaval often follows food insecurity. Whether it was the high food prices that were one of the triggers of the French Revolution, or whether it was the rising food prices in 2008 and 2009 that were one of the instigators of the massive unrest across North Africa and the Middle East. Food insecurity is part of the scene that cities have to plan for. The reliability of infrastructure is crucial, because infrastructure will come under greater stress. When New Orleans levees broke in 2005, flooding parts of new Orleans and causing massive loss of life and horrendous damage. This was a failure of infrastructure. The engineers, by the way, had warned for years and years that New Orleans’ levees were under threat. They needed to be reinforced. But because of budget constraints, because of putting off for the future what should be done today, one of humanity’s most consistent traits, this wasn’t done. The flev, the levees burst, New Orleans flooded, disaster ensued. Many cities around the world face this kind of risk. They’re being warned of it. They’re not yet taking the risks seriously or adequately seriously. Pollution is likely to worsen as well through combinations of changing weather patterns and in many places, higher proportions of automobiles per household, and other smog-related sources. And so, there are many areas where we know that climate change and other trends that are underway, interacting with rising populations, a more, crowded cities, larger agglomerations, are likely to create, tremendous, tremendous risks. It’s important, of course, for every city to assess those risks in a detailed way. There is no one blueprint, this is for sure. And each city, because of its distinctive topography, location, these would be the ocean location, these would be cyclonic activity, whether it’s the so-called typhoons as the name is given in uhh, in Asia or the hurricanes in the Caribbean and the Southern and East coasts of the United States. Cities need to know, in particular, what the challenges are for them. The United Nations Population Division has done an important classification of the major hazards faced by major cities, identifying cyclones, droughts, earthquakes, floods, landslides, and volcanoes as major hazards that need to be modeled, understood, and to the extent possible, anticipated by the major cities. Many cities along the coast are threatened by cyclones, some of the larger agglomerations threatened by massive cyclones include Tokyo, Shanghai, Manila, Osaka, Guangzhou, China, Shenzhen, near Hong Kong, Seoul and so forth. So many of Asia’s largest cities, many cities are in dry land areas threatened by extreme droughts. Calcutta, Karachi, Pakistan, Los Angeles with its  water supply problems, even crisis, one could say. Chennai or Madras in Tamil Nadu state on the east, southeast coast of, of India.Lahore, Pakistan, Ahmad, Ahmadabad, India. Santiago de Chile.

All cities that have a major challenge of water supply and a major risk of drought. Earthquakes, we know. Our cities that sit along the seismic zones, especially, where the tectonic plates meet. And as you can see in this map of seismicity places, where earthquakes have hit, between 1977 and 1992, shown on this map, the heavy concentrations are along the tectonic plates. And many, many cities sit along these areas, of course, California with Los Angeles and San Francisco. the, East Asia, with the, the cities of Japan, of the Philippines, of Indonesia, vulnerable to earthquakes. The cities in the Andean region. The cities in Turkey in the Anatolian Peninsula. Are all highly vulnerable to earthquake, and in the U.N. population division ranking of major cities at top risks of, of earthquakes in the eighth, ninth and tenth, deciles, the highest risks are Los Angeles, Manila, Istanbul, Lima,Tehran, Santiago de Chile, San Francisco, Kunming, China, Nagoya, Japan and Izmir, Turkey. Floods, of course, affect cities along the coasts, that is, most of our large cities, Tokyo, Delhi along the Jamuna River, Mexico City New York, Shanghai, Sao Paulo, Dhaka, in the delta, that is Bangladesh, Calcutta, Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro. All cities because of their topography often mountains and hills around them, risks of flash flooding, coastal proximity in, in most cases are highly vulnerable to massive floods as my own city New York experienced in November 2012. Cities in mountain areas of course, highly vulnerable to landslides. And a few cities are vulnerable to volcano, volcanic action such as Akito, Equador. We know that these hazards are on the rise. The frequency of cities being hit by these hazards, the amount of payouts from insurance are all showing a sharp increase, consistent with the idea that we have entered a new era on the planet. The age of the Anthropocene is an era of hydrometeorological threat. As you see in these images of cities in massive flooding in Szechuan Province. New York City in super storm Sandy. In Beijing inundated by massive floods in the middle of 2012.

In Bangkok, a devastation of flood so severe it closed down the economy for weeks. And, because Bangkok is so essential to the global supply chain in industry, closed down a lot of the electronics and automobile sector or at least limited the production seriously for many months after the Bangkok disasters. Cities are not necessarily very well prepared for that, even very sophisticated cities. Here you’re looking at downtown Manhattan. The base of Manhattan in New York City. One of the richest places on the planet. It prides itself in its complete sophistication.It’s all dark. Why? Of course, because the power went out. The grid was not resilient to the flooding in lower Manhattan, many backup generators, even in the hospitals, were in the wrong place, where were they? Unbelievably, they were in the basements, the first places to be flooded and so, major hospitals had to be evacuated as well, all of this is a sign of the lack of forward thinking. Many scientists and urban engineers had been more or less saying for years, New York will be flooded. Of course, the storm that ensued in November 2012 truly was a mega storm, but the warnings had been there about the risks and very, very little preparation had been made. We’re also seeing, because of the confluence of changing weather patterns, often heatwaves. More automobiles more urban pollution because of the lack of clean energy systems, the advent of mega smog episodes and massively dangerous air. China, unfortunately, is now heading the list. China was shocked in early 2013 when a major smog descended on Beijing. That was so heavy, it exceeded by 20 or 30 times the guidelines for particulate pollution in the urban air. It caused the city to come to a screeching halt. It was a terrible shocking wake up call for China in its need to take on the challenge of its massive air pollution. The good news is, it’s possible to do it. Other cities had been there. Other cities that, like China, rely heavily on coal, or relied heavily on coal, and without the precautions of smokestack scrubbers, and other, alternatives to keep the air clean. New York City had its own smog attack, but it was quite a long time ago, more than 40 years ago and since then pollution regulations and especially a shift from coal and a, a move to much cleaner energy sources has enabled the air to be cleaned. London, it’s, as well, was a coal burning city. Like so many of China’s cities are today, that moved away from coal to lower particulate energy sources. Not only does that lower the CO2 emissions, but it cleans the air as well. We know that we have to move also to reduce CO2 emissions, even with clean air We need to move away from fossils fuels to head off the the climate change. But the kind of massive air pollution that is being experienced in China’s cities today is remediable and it’s increasingly urgent, of course, that it is remediated. Cities that are in earthquake zones, we now know, can take preparations. Buildings can be reinforced at very, very low cost. When this is not done, the tragedies that hit Haiti, for example, in January 2010 ensue. In Haiti, hundreds of thousands of people died suddenly in a terrible earthquake. Whose epicenter was just at the city of Port Au Prince. When a similar magnitude earthquake had hit Kobe, Japan a few years earlier, the death toll was high at about 5,000 but nothing like the devastation in Haiti. Haiti is a poor country, had not taken precautions. The buildings were rock or brick buildings without being fortified against earthquake risk. This kind of devastation also can be predicted, can be modeled, and can be avoided through safer zoning, fortified structures, preparation for this kind of, this kind of risk. Finally, with sea levels rising around the world. Cities are finding that they have to think the unthinkable to protect themselves from a sea level that they thought was securely behind ocean walls or fortifications or dykes in the past. But now are surging past these protections and threatening the cities with inundation. The Netherlands is probably the world’s most experienced place in the whole planet of battling the sea level. It is a country that is substantially below sea level, so throughout its history it’s had to create special fortifications, the dykes and other barriers, to protect the Netherlands from sea level flooding. As the seas continue to rise, as Netherlands experienced the horrible episodes of flooding and loss of life in the 1950s. The Netherlands engineers had become world leaders in creative solutions. What to do to protect its great heritage, culture, and major cities from a rising sea level. What you’re looking at here is one of the great acts of foresight and engineering creativity on the planet. What the Netherlands sought to do was to raise the barriers to a rising ocean and to major storms on the ocean that threaten the coasts of the Netherlands and the interior of the country because of its eh, oh, eh, it’s low elevations. And as they thought about this protection, they realized the cost that would attend to a standard engineering design simply to block the ocean from the coastal areas. In estuary areas, where the flow of tides is essential for a healthy ecology. For the shellfish that are among the Dutch pride and joy of their cuisine. And of course, of the more general protection of these ecosystems. The engineers sought solutions that would allow for normal ecosystem functioning, but a preparation in the case of major storms or major storm surges. And what you see here is called the Eastern Shelt Barrier, an ingenious multi-billion dollar creation of Dutch engineering that allows for a protection against sea level through gates that close off during storm surges and during threats of major flooding. But that in normal times remain open to allow for the normal ecology of ocean flow and tidal fluctuations to hold. And this is an example of thinking ahead, of problem solving. Of combining engineering, ecology, and public policy in an absolutely splendid and dazzling way. The Dutch thought ahead. It took more than a decade of planning and thinking to bring this into realization. It has required billions of dollars to do so. But it offers an ecologically smart way for the Netherlands to continue its age old vocation of protecting itself against the sea, but at the same time, loving the coastal ecology and the ecosystems that support the Netherlands and by extension, support all of us around the world. We need that kind of smart engineering, in order to ensure resilience, we need forward looking behavior. We need to combine ecology, engineering, and public policy to keep our cities resilient and desirable places to live. In the 21st Century.

Sustainable Cities III

Smart Infrastructure

Cities need to make choices about infrastructure. How energy, transport, water, sewerage, waste will be handled. Cities are complex organisms, often with millions of people interacting with industrial processes and the complex, transportation and communications needs as well.


How to make the best of this type, densely settled region. How to get the most productivity and the highest quality of life, is a matter of choice. And cities that plan well, design infrastructure well, are able to maximize economic opportunities, improve quality of life, promote public health, and minimize the impact of the population on the natural environment. Including, a relatively low carbon economy. Some aspects of that core infrastructure include transportation. In densely settled areas, relying on the automobile is a recipe for massive congestion, air pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions. And there are much better options of public transport and when properly designed, walking and, and bicycling for a large number of one’s needs in urban areas. Water management, a huge challenge. Water has to be provided safely. Sewerage has to be handled safely every day, day in and day out. And with rising populations, cities of course have to anticipate their growing water needs. This requires foresight, and I’ll explain how New York City has faced this challenge. Cities generate massive amounts of waste. Organic waste from food that is disposed of, sewerage industrial waste, packaging materials, newspaper and other paper to be recycled. And how those millions and millions of tons of waste handled each year are disposed of or recycled is a major factor in the city’s impact on the environment, and on its own quality of life and, and the, the greening of its own environment. How the building codes determine the kinds of buildings that are built, where they’re built, what their zoning is, is another aspect of the choices and I will give some indication about that as well. Well some cities had managed their transport well, and in other places it’s chaotic beyond imagining. Look at the commuters in Indonesia. Packed to a life-threatening extent. Compare that with one of the world’s most sparkling, efficient, dynamic metro systems in Seoul, South Korea, which is a huge system of hundreds of kilometers of line. Beijing and countless Chinese cities the large ones, have all been building metro systems in recent years as well. Serving them very well and wisely making the investments in mass public transportation, because the alternative for China will be, and is threatened to be, a massive explosion of automobile use with all of the ecological and economic ills that could attend to that. Bogota became famous as the exemplar of another kind of public transportation. That’s bus rapid transit. It followed another city, Curitiba, Brazil, which pioneered bus rapid transit in the 1970s. The idea was to encourage people to move away from automobiles to buses, by giving buses favorable conditions of access on dedicated lanes, very frequent service, and comfortable ways for people to get in and out of buses waiting in stations, and with stations located in convenient areas. Here you see, in Bogota, the famous red bus of their bus rapid transit system, entering one of the covered stations, a comfortable and safe area, for people to get on and off of the buses. And Bogota gets rave reviews from its own citizens and from around the world it gets people trying to learn the lessons of Bogota’s rapid transit system. And it therefore has won many, many, emulators around the world. Recently, cities have started to make a full arc to their earlier traditions. And that is also to make sure that there are safe, open areas for bicycling. Europe has taken the lead in this with the bus with the bicycle lanes in many of Europe’s wonderful cities. And with innovative ways now with smart cards of, and with the shared bicycles system such as this one in Paris that are leading to a renewal of what was once discarded in favor of the car. But because of congestion, because of the expenses of managing automobiles, because of the difficulties of parking, of traffic jams, because of individuals’ concerns with their own C O2 emissions and contributions to climate change. People and, I should add, with the people seeking a healthier way to get to work and to spend their days, there’s been a return to bike lanes and bicycle use. And I’m happy to say, in New York City this is also taking hold with great popularity. And it, it is an important step forward, not only for all of the ecological reasons, but for the public health reasons as well. Urbanites have come to understand in the last 20 years, the hard way. That if they take sedentarism to the extreme, they’re not out working the fields. They’re in office jobs in the service economy. The risks to their own health showing up in obesity, in heart disease, in other costs of sedentarism are very, very high. So people are eager to find ways to get back out onto the streets. Pedestrian areas in city centers encouraging people to walk. Often the streets are being closed to cars. The congestion has just gotten out of hand. Quality of life has diminished. And people by the thousands and by the millions added up over a year, are encouraged to get out and walk as they are in the Ramblas in the center of Barcelona. And this too is becoming a strategy of choice of urban zoning, especially for the core urban areas. And it is being supported, not only by access to pedestrian walkways, to bicycle lanes, to improved mass transit. But also through policies such as congestion taxation, in which people are charged a steep price for entering the center of cities in their automobiles, giving a strong economic push to get out of the car, leave the car behind. For moving between cities, there are also big choices. In the United States in the 1950s, a breakthrough was made to connect America’s cities by the interstate highway system. It had a very large economic impact, of course. It was an efficiency enhancer from the point of view of moving goods and moving people. It also facilitated the spread of suburbanization in the United States because highways linked suburbs with center cities. Having people move farther out from the densely populated center cities, and also, thereby contributing to America’s remarkably high ecological footprint. Its extraordinarily high level of CO2 emissions per capita. China, fortunately, has gone in a different direction rather than encouraging people to move between China’s cities. And China has the world’s largest network of large cities of more than a million people. It has built and continues to build tens of thousands of kilometers of fast rail to connect China’s cities. This electrified transport, if the electricity grid turns green very important step that China will need to take in future years, will enable a low emission transport system. And also one that will allow people to move very quickly with much less congestion, and with the much less investment in automobiles than was true in the United States. In the U.S., there are roughly 250 million personal vehicles for a 310 million population. Roughly five personal vehicles for every six people in, in the population. In China, the equivalent would be more than 1 billion cars. China currently has on the order of probably 120 million vehicles or so. The number’s rising now quite quickly. Because China’s become the world’s largest automobile market. But if China were to go all the way to the U.S. automobile density, not only would it become the world’s largest traffic jam, but China’s energy needs and its carbon emissions would be completely out of sight. So China needs to continue to take smart choices like an electrified, intercity fast rail system. Let me turn to another aspect of infrastructure, water supply. Every big city has to provision for drinking water for its population. As well as water for other uses for that part of urban agriculture, and for industrial uses of water. And how to do that effectively is a major challenge. In New York City, this has been addressed for more than a century by tapping into water reservoirs outside of the city, and carried to the city by huge pipes that bring water from two big watersheds. One you see on the map called the Catskills in the, in in hill and mountain area near the Hudson River. And another in what’s called the Croton watershed. Both of which are connected by huge, underground pipes to provision New York. The reason that this is quite interesting is that, about 15 years ago, New York faced the problem that the water coming from both of these areas was becoming more turbid more polluted, more containing chemical products and, and the outflow of industrial and farm activities in the areas nearby these two watersheds. And the proposal at the time was to build multi-billion dollar water treatment sites to keep New York City water safe, and that would be the intuitive step. The water’s getting dirtier, you have to treat the water and giant waste treatment sites for a city of eight million plus people seemed to be inevitable. But the city planners at the time, had a clever realization. And that is that it would be safer and smarter to encourage these out of state or, or out of city areas, I should say, near the watersheds, to engage in fewer activities that endangered the water supply. To keep the water clean and safe, so that these multi-billion dollar investments of water treatment would not have to be made. Of course, those areas had their own economic interests. And so New York City realized that it would have to provide a financial incentive.

1131To both the Catskills and the Croton watershed areas to desist from the kinds of farm activities, use of fertilizers, pesticides and so forth, that would endanger New York City’s drinking water. And sure enough the city arranged for a financial transfer to these outlying areas, to compensate for cutting back on some of the more dangerous processes. It’s a rather ingenious idea, not easily organized by a market, but by a political agreement that satisfied the interests of both the New York City residents who thereby avoided billions and billions of dollars of water treatment. And the residents of these outlying areas who did desist from certain profitable economic activities, but where their cities received compensating benefits. Now it’s still true 15 years later that there’s going to have to be a bit more waste and water treatment to keep the water standards at the high quality levels. But still this idea even taking into account the further needs for water treatment has made it possible for New York City to find a lower cost safer, and ultimately high quality way to preserve its water supply.

That’s very specific for New York. Every city, every major urban agglomeration has to solve a problem like this. I think that not only is New York’s solution a very interesting one. Because it’s a very unusual one and it had to be put together with a lot of creativity, insight and good political management. But it also highlights something that’s very important, in my view. And that is sustainable development is inherently an exercise in problem solving. Thinking out of the box, thinking out of the watershed, thinking out of the city, finding better ways to do things that can’t be found necessarily in the textbooks alone. It’s being creative, and creating new models. Yet another aspect of urban infrastructure, absolutely essential, and that is what to do with all of that waste. Some of it, paper and plastics, may be recyclable. Other parts of the waste, maybe some of the scrap metal, can also be reprocessed. A lot of the waste is organic waste. Food, into the garbage bags for example. Rotted food, or food that’s thrown out from the restaurants, and, and and homes. How to handle, all of this waste. Again, the usual way in the past was truly to regard it as waste and stick it some place, especially in landfills. And many large cities around the world built massive, massive human waste dumps that were fetid eye sores, nose sores. Actually carriers of pollution and sites of massive greenhouse gas emissions because these landfills admit methane among other gases and methane is one of the most potent of the greenhouse gases. Engineers came to understand much better that simply filling the land with this kind of waste was terribly unwise. Dangerous for the land, dangerous for the water supply, dangerous for the air around it, dangerous for the residents living nearby, dangerous for greenhouse gas emissions. And a huge waste, because a lot of what was going into the landfills could be inputs for recycling, for industrial processes, even for the generation of energy. So, in the last 20 years, cities have experimented with many different kinds of recycling programs and with various kinds of innovative waste to energy facilities. In Western Europe, Denmark among other places, has been a leader, also in waste energy, in using various kinds of waste gas for power generation. And not only for power but for this idea that the electricity goes out into the grid and the heat exhaust from combustion, rather than simply going into the atmosphere is itself collected. And in the case of Denmark pumped to urban settlement areas to heat water for homes as well as to heat the homes themselves during the winter time. In general we’re going to see a lot of smartening up of structures,  buildings, recycling, and of the power grid itself.

The concept that many cities around the world are now adopting, in a general term that will be gaining more and more specificity, and examples in the coming years, is an urban smart grid. That urban smart grid may mean a smart interconnection of mobility, of public transportation, individual electric vehicles, the power grid, the household electricity use, the interconnections with the waste processing of the cities through cogeneration or use of waste gas for electricity generation. One of the characteristics of the smart grid is the use of information technologies as a breakthrough in a way to be far more efficient, also in the energy use. Sensors, microsensors in housing, in appliances, in automobiles, will allow an interconnected power grid directly communicating with households and with businesses to economize on energy use. To send signals of when an extra power load is going to be needed. And to allow off-grid decentralized power sources to smartly connect with the grid. Whether it’s solar panels or other kinds of distributed power generation that right now stands alone. But it will be connected in a smart way through a metered system to an integrated smart grid for the city. Finally, let me mention, that as part of this smart infrastructure, is smarter and smarter building codes. Buildings can be built to be efficient. If they are properly engineered for proper insulation, proper location with regard to sunshine, with natural ventilation rather than rather than ventilation driven by heating and air conditioning. With recycling of water within the facilities themselves. Even with cogeneration facilities dedicated to a smart building like the Bank of America tower in my own city of New York.

A skyscraper that meets the ultimate platinum LEED standard which is the standard for evaluating the ecological impact of buildings. One of these smart things that this very smart Bank of America tower does, is that it has a cogeneration facility for its own power needs and using the heat from that for the hot water and for the ventilation in the building itself. All of this shows technological innovation at play. Information systems, smarter transport, smarter ways to recycle materials to close the loop, so that cities can achieve what is within their potential. Very high quality of life. An interconnected grid for transport, for power, for water, for sewerage. And in a way with a very low and falling ecological footprint.