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PRI's Environmental News Magazine

Cool Fix for a Hot Planet

Air Date: Week of January 4, 2008

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In the deserts of Abu Dhabi, plans are on the table to build the world’s first carbon-neutral city. Living on Earth’s Mitra Taj reports.

Transcript

CURWOOD: It’s Living on Earth. I’m Steve Curwood. Cities generate most of the man-made carbon dioxide—what with lighting, heating, cooling and traveling. But cities can also offer huge potential energy savings—think of mass transit and apartments as opposed to sprawling suburbs.

And the city of the future may be a truly energy-efficient proposal, as Living on Earth’s Mitra Taj explains in today’s “Cool Fix for a Hot Planet.”

[SOUND OF CARS PASSING IN CITY]

TAJ: Carbon dioxide emissions have been a part of the urban environment ever since the Industrial Revolution made burning fossil fuels central to everyday life. But now an Abu Dhabi alternative energy company and London-based architectural firm plan to change the way we think about city living by building “the world’s first carbon-neutral city.”

[COOL FIX MUSIC]

When you think about it, all of the world’s first cities—in ancient Mesopotamia, China, and Egypt—were carbon neutral. But that’s beside the point: Today’s cities make up less than one percent of the earth’s surface but generate 80 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company has plans for the 3.7 square mile Masdar City to include a ban on cars, a solar photovoltaic power plant, wind farms, desalinated seawater, and electric transportation systems.

Masdar’s designers say none of the city’s 47,000 residents will ever be more than 220 yards from ‘essential facilities,’ like transportation pick up points and grocery stores selling local produce. Wastewater will be purified and piped back to the city and all trash will be recycled.

Zero emissions. Zero waste. Sound too good to be true? If all goes well, Masdar could come to life as early as late 2009. And that, designers say, will be just the beginning of sustainable urban living.

[ANNOUNCER: ‘One day, all cities will be built like this’]

TAJ: That’s this week’s Cool Fix for a Hot Planet. I’m Mitra Taj.

 

 

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