La Fabrique de la Cité's Newsletter #88

#88 - 16 July 2021

Acting against climate change: "it's politics, stupid"

In Chantilly on 8 and 9 July, more than 150 decision-makers from the public and business sectors, researchers and scientists, and representatives of civil society met to commit to building a low-carbon city for all.

This first University of the City of Tomorrow (UVD) was 24 hours during which they expressed their convictions, shared their questions, opened a rich dialogue, and proposed solutions for living in or financing this city that we must transform or build, as well as for reducing its indirect emissions (because yes, at the UVD, we are not afraid of scope 3!). This project was born out of a meeting between the Palladio Foundation and La Fabrique de la Cité: when we first sketched out this project nearly two years ago with Bertrand de Feydeau, President of the Palladio Foundation, we said to ourselves that our cities deserved and needed this ambitious, partnership-based vision.

Why did exceptional guests not only answer "yes" but also say "yes" to the commitments of the UVD charter as well as to the innovative approach of aiming to make their organisations' employees (companies, public authorities) and, more broadly, the citizens react? Why did President Biden's special climate envoy John Kerry, on his way to meet the Russian president in Moscow, stop in Chantilly to tell the assembled leaders of his conviction that action was needed, to accelerate and to reaffirm his belief that we will succeed in meeting the challenge if we give ourselves the means? The extreme events - heat domes, floods in Belgium and Germany - speak for themselves. The other reason concerns the missing piece of the edifice: the ambitious objectives presented yesterday by the European Commission are a reminder that the policies aimed at building social acceptance of the measures to be taken do not exist at the moment. France has had painful experience of this and the Gilets jaunes are on everyone's mind, well beyond our borders. We know what to do. The question of "how to do it" remains and it is to this difficult task that the UVD has started to work. – Cécile Maisonneuve, Présidente de La Fabrique de la Cité

No time to read? La Fabrique de la Cité has got you covered.


EUROPEAN GREEN DEAL The objective is clear for Europe: to become the first climate neutral continent by 2050. With the Green Deal, presented on Wednesday 14 July, the European Union (EU) has given itself the means to create a global dynamic that will encourage other countries to join the effort to preserve the planet. The 27 EU member states have committed to reducing their emissions by at least 55% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels. Some of the proposals may directly affect the relations of European countries with their neighbors, such as the introduction of customs duties on certain imports from countries with less stringent climate protection rules. Other measures include eliminating sales of new gasoline and diesel cars in just 14 years, and increasing the price of fossil fuel use. Who will follow the old continent? (The New York Times) – Yamina Saydi, Communications Officer


NOT ENOUGH? – Recent work by the University of Oxford's Transport, Energy and Environment Unit shows that full electrification of the car fleet will not be enough to achieve net zero emissions. First of all, electric cars are not truly zero-carbon. Moreover, even if all new cars sold were electric, it would take another 15 to 20 years to replace the world's fleet of fossil fuel vehicles. While active mobility can be a solution, especially in city centers, it should be remembered that finding alternatives to the car is a particularly difficult problem when it comes to commuting from outlying areas to city centers. (University of Oxford) – Arthur Wienhold, Research Assistant


REFORMING PLANNING SYSTEM – Boris Johnson wants to change the English planning system to "tear down the system and start again", angering communities who fear the new reform will reduce their right to decide how their homes should change. But what are communities really trying to protect at all costs? Neighborhood planning, a key initiative in UK history that gives communities rights granted by the Localism Act of 2011. It allows community groups to write their own statutory planning policies, giving them the power to address issues such as the location, type and scale of new development. More than 2,700 plans are in development or already completed, affecting more than 12 million people. (The Conversation) – Emilie Li, Research Assistant

PARKING OR CASH? – In the US, cities, states, and the federal government are working to reduce traffic congestion, air pollution, and carbon emissions, but the federal tax code does not support these goals. The income tax exemption for employer-paid parking subsidizes driving alone to work, which is part of the reason why 81% of U.S. commuters drive alone to work. In an effort to reduce solo driving and increase equity, the District of Columbia enacted its Transportation Benefits Equity Amendment in 2020. Called "parking cash out," the policy gives commuters the option to choose between free parking or another benefit of equal value. Already tested in the 1990s in Southern California, this measure has resulted in a 17% decrease in the number of people driving to work alone, carpooling has increased by 64%, as has the use of public transportation by (50%) and walking or biking (39%). Parking cash out is a simple modification of a traditional fringe benefit, as it simply allows commuters to choose how to receive the benefit. (Bloomberg) – Yamina Saydi

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