COP 28 Agenda — Phase Down Of Fossil Fuel Inevitable & Essential

COP 28 Agenda — Phase Down Of Fossil Fuel Inevitable & Essential

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COP 28 Agenda — Phase Down Of Fossil Fuel Inevitable & Essential

COP 28 Agenda should encompass a Phase Down of Fossil Fuel that is, at this stage, an Inevitable & Essential step towards a more healthy future because, as we all know, Fossil Fuel ‘Addiction’ Is Sabotaging Every Sustainable Development Goal.

Here is how  in CleanTechnica sees it.

When COP 28 kicks off in Dubai on November 30, it may be the world’s last real chance to tackle the challenge of an overheating planet finally.

The COP 28 Climate Summit is scheduled for November 2023 in Dubai. The president of the conference is Sultan Al Jaber, who just happens to be the head of Adnoc, the national oil company of the United Arab Emirates, of which Dubai is a part.

“Wait!’” we hear you cry. “At a time when the need for urgent climate action is apparent — the heat index in the Middle East on July 18 reached 152 degrees F (67 degrees C) — the next head of a critical climate conference will be an oil executive? Is this a joke?” The answer is yes, that is exactly what is happening here, and no, it is not a joke.

 

 

The backlash against Al Jaber has been strong. The optics of this situation are just all wrong. What were the people who made this decision thinking? But before you turn away in disgust, give a listen to what Al Jaber told The Guardian recently:

“Phasing down fossil fuels is inevitable and it is essential — it’s going to happen. What I’m trying to say is you can’t unplug the world from the current energy system before you build the new energy system. It’s a transition — transitions don’t happen overnight, transition takes time.”

Al Jaber started the storm of criticism shortly after he was named to head the conference when he said the world’s emphasis should be on lowering fossil fuel emissions instead of a phaseout of fossil fuels themselves, which is a key demand of more than 80 countries.

Al Jaber told The Guardian he welcomed the scrutiny. “When we signed up to the hosting of COP 28, we knew exactly what we were signing up to. I don’t think there has ever been a country that has hosted the COP that did not get this type of pressure or heat from activists and media, so that’s part of the game. The scrutiny sometimes also makes us dig deeper into issues, understand better, analyse more to draw better conclusions. Never have I said that I have all the solutions, or I have all the answers.”

Last week, Al Jaber met with representatives from 40 nations to lay out his specific proposals for COP 28, which fell into four main topic areas.

COP 28 & The 1.5°C Goal

The Paris agreement required countries to hold global temperature rises “well below 2°C” above pre-industrial levels, while “pursuing efforts” to stay within 1.5°C. At COP 26 in 2021, world governments agreed to focus on the more stringent goal of 1.5°C. Since then, some governments have tried to refocus the discussion on 2°C, but Al Jaber has made it clear from the outset that his plan is based on the tougher goal. “This plan is guided by a single north star, and that is keeping 1.5°C within reach,” he told the assembled ministers and government officials.

Kate Hampton, chief executive of the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, who contributed to the COP 28 plan, said,  “The commitment to 1.5°C is particularly important. The presidency has recognized it is time to accelerate the essential and inevitable end for fossil fuels. The challenge now for the presidency is to ensure delivery across a comprehensive agenda, which can only be achieved with a transformational plan for mobilizing finance.”

National Plans

At COP 28, governments will conduct for the first time a “global stocktake” that will set out the progress countries have made on the emissions reduction commitments — known as “nationally determined contributions” or NDCs — they made in Paris.

The stocktake is certain to find that the world is way off track to meet its Paris goals, but the COP presidency has decided against naming and shaming individual countries. Instead, all countries will be required to submit updated NDCs in September that are sufficiently tough to meet the 1.5°C goal. In line with that requirement, the UAE itself has submitted a revision to its NDC that contains emissions reductions of 40% compared with a business-as-usual approach.

Phase Out Or Phase Down?

Al Jaber emphasized that this effort would entail “the phase down of fossil fuels,” which he said was “inevitable and essential.” The wording is significant. He was heavily criticized two months ago for repeatedly referring to the “phase out of fossil fuel emissions,” which observers took to mean that oil and gas companies could carry on extracting fossil fuels as long as the resulting carbon dioxide was somehow captured. But scientists have warned against using carbon capture and storage technology as a “free lunch” to excuse continued extraction.

Nevertheless, the “phase down” language will disappoint the more than 80 countries that want COP 28 to pass a commitment to phasing out fossil fuels entirely.

Clean Energy

Commitments to double energy efficiency, triple renewable energy capacity to 11,000 GW globally, and double hydrogen production to 180 million tons a year by 2030 will be put to governments at COP 28, where they are expected to be agreed to.

COP 28 & Reality

Romain Ioualalen, global policy lead at Oil Change International, told The Guardian, “Recent history has shown that more renewable energy does not automatically translate into less fossil fuels. COP 28 will only be a success if its presidency sets aside the interests of the oil and gas industry and facilitates a clear outcome on the need for a decline of all fossil fuel production and use, as well as a rapid phase-in of wind and solar. The only way we’ll build a new energy system that is both clean and fair is by actively phasing out the old.”

Al Jaber wants to formulate a plan to get the world’s biggest oil and gas producers to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in line with the 1.5°C target — this at a time when those companies are fleeing any promises made previously as they go panting after more and bigger profits from selling their climate-killing products.

 

 

To activate his plan, he intends to bring fossil fuel executives to COP 28, despite the objections of many climate advocates who well remember that there were more fossil fuel advocates in Egypt last year for COP 27 than government representatives. The Guardian says if Al Jaber can get the companies to address their duty to the environment, “it would be an astonishing step forward for climate action.”

When Al Jaber first spoke to oil and gas companies earlier this year, he focused on what they could do to make their operations less carbon intensive by improving their extraction efficiency and plugging leaks of methane. These are known as scope 1 emissions, because they are fully under a company’s control. But critics pointed out that approach ignored scope 3 emissions, which are by far the greatest impact of fossil fuels. Those are the emissions created when oil or methane is burned by customers.

Last Thursday, Al Jaber adjusted his message in response to that criticism. “Let us end the reductive discussion of scope 1 v scope 2 v scope 3. We need to attack all emissions, everywhere — one, two, and three.” That is a huge victory for climate activists.

Who Will Pay?

Talk is cheap. It is “put up or shut up” time for fossil fuel companies. Their argument is that the transition to renewables and a phaseout of fossil fuels will be too costly, but that fails to take into account the direct and indirect cost of a warming planet. By some accounts, fossil fuel interests get the benefit of nearly $7.5 trillion in direct and indirect subsidies every year. No less a personage than Elon Musk says it will cost $100 trillion to transition to a zero-carbon economy, but sticking with a business-as-usual approach will cost far more — $130 trillion.

Al Jaber called for “a comprehensive transformation” of the World Bank and other international finance institutions, and for private sector funding to be brought in. He wants to make sure that a commitment by rich countries to provide $100 billion a year to poor nations is finally fulfilled. He also repeated the demand from UN Secretary General António Guterres for a doubling of finance for developing countries to adapt to climate impacts.

The Takeaway

COP 27 last year was an unmitigated disaster where oil companies got everything they wanted. Climate advocates are right to be concerned that this year’s conclave will be another debacle. But … Al Jaber is making the right noises. He is talking the talk. Now it remains to be seen whether he can walk the walk. The world has run out of chances to get this right.

Featured image by Kyle Field | CleanTechnica

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Who really benefits from new cities?

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By Jeffrey Mason in CITYMONITOR INFRASTRUCTURE

5 July 2023

The above-featured image is for illustration and is of Egypt’s new capital under construction / credit to Africa Intelligence

Rapid urbanisation across the globe has seen development plans for whole new cities on the rise, but is there truly a need for them?

Humanity has built new cities throughout history. Some emerged organically to support trade networks, some as defensive strongholds, and others as the realised dream of a modernising monarch or a unifying political leader. In the modern, post-Second World War era, hundreds of deliberately planned new cities have been built or are currently in development. The number of new city projects has exploded in the past two decades – but why?

NEOM – New Cities: A billboard advertising the new city of Neom, Tabuk, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by SaudiArabiaPhotography/Shutterstock)

The world is undergoing its final wave of urbanisation

While most of the high-income world is already about as urbanised as it will likely ever be, with any future charges being marginal, low and middle-income countries are undergoing an urban explosion. IndiaChina and Nigeria alone are expected to add 416 million, 255 million, and 189 million new urban residents, respectfully, by 2050. Nearly all the most rapidly urbanising countries in the world today are located in sub-Saharan Africa, and this region will be home to the world’s leading megacities by the end of the century, surpassing Asia.

But as these countries approach 40%, 50,% or 60% urbanisation, they’re doing so at significantly lower levels of income and with significantly less state capacity than, for example, the US in the 1920s or South Korea in the 1970s.

So as cities throughout sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and elsewhere undergo extremely rapid urban growth, their economies are proving incapable of productively employing a growing, and very young, workforce and their governments are proving incapable of building sufficient infrastructure or providing sufficient public services. These are deeply challenging problems of political economy to solve. New cities are offering a valuable, albeit incomplete, solution.

Building a new city on the outskirts of Lagos or New Delhi doesn’t solve their respective problems overnight. However, it does help meet the overwhelming public demand for new urban spaces and the economic opportunity those spaces are expected to provide. New cities, which are often endowed with some form of special economic zone status, and are targeted towards specific industries, can become new hubs that are far more attractive to potential investors and entrepreneurs, with better policy regimes and infrastructure support, than existing cities.

Retrofitting existing infrastructure can be several times more expensive than building new infrastructure – getting the bones of a city “right” in advance of settlement is helping to address the economic and humanitarian challenges faced by millions of urban dwellers.

For many urbanites worldwide, physical environment limits their economic potential and quality of life

It’s hard to be a remote-working software developer in Nigeria if the internet and electricity are frequently out of service. It’s hard to raise a family in a city where there are no sidewalks or public safety is a major concern. Cities generate economic progress and new ideas by attracting lots of people to a single location, the creation of agglomeration economies.

The new cities map via www.newcitiesmap.com/map.

New city projects like Itana, outside Lagos, or Silicon Zanzibar, are rebuilding these talent networks in new, more attractive, and more productive locations. New cities like Ciudad Morazán, Honduras, or Small Farm Cities Malawi are offering the average family in poor countries quality housing they can actually afford, good jobs, and safe, vibrant communities.

Industrial-scale new cities like Enyimba Economic City, Nigeria, and Gu’an New Industry City, China, are creating the physical and policy environments needed to generate real economic progress, which is not always easily replicated in existing cities.

The history of building new cities

Beyond the economic factors driving the creation of new cities, it’s undeniable that building new cities is an inherently interesting, exciting venture. In the history of new cities, this energy has manifested itself with incredible results, such as St. Petersburg, Peter the Great’s Russian gateway to the west. However, at other times, there are new cities that prove to be nothing more than white elephants that waste valuable public revenues or private capital.

It’s great that Brasilia looks like a bird or an aircraft when viewed from above, but whether Brasilia works for those relegated beyond the city’s wings is a more important question. Is Akon’s proposed city with its eponymous cryptocurrency really the right project to accelerate Senegal’s development? How many times are we going to hear about new smart cities being just around the corner in India?

For some new cities, it’s simply too early to render an honest judgment. Saudi Arabia’s Neom project has attracted throngs of admirers and detractors for its unique 170km straight-line urban plan. It could be a bust, like its predecessor King Abdullah Economic City, or it might very well introduce new dynamism to the Saudi economy and even some liberalism to Saudi society. And we shouldn’t forget China’s famous “subway to nowhere,” where just a few short years after this rail expansion was roundly mocked, it became a subway to somewhere.

Humans have always built new cities and have done so for an endless list of reasons

Today’s new city builders are no different, with visions ranging from boosting innovation to unlocking the economic potential for the poor to cementing political or cultural legacies to combatting the effects of climate change and raising sea levels. New cities are “having a moment” as builders and policymakers scramble to answer the immense challenges and opportunities posed by urbanisation at a pace and on a scale never seen before.

The New Cities Map was built by Charter Cities Institute to address these challenges and provide data-driven answers. The open-source database catalogued every contemporary new city built since 1945, recording their development structure, finances, history, and governance. By looking backwards at unprecedented quantitative data, researchers and policymakers will have a greater ability to comprehend what makes a new city succeed or fail.

With the trend of new cities appearing everywhere unlikely to subside, it’s in the global interest to understand how to get them right.

 

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Water for all: uniting communities, nature and technology

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The UN 2023 Water Conference in New York set the stage for a global community united in its resolve to achieve ‘Sustainable Development Goal 6: clean water and sanitation for all by 2030’. With discussions spanning the UN Water stage and accompanying events like the New York Water Week, participants from multiple sectors shed light on various themes critical to realizing sustainable water security amid the changing climate. As Arcadians committed to sustainability and improving quality of life, we joined in the discussions, sharing insights from our water resilience projects. Here’s a reflection on the takeaways and areas we must consider together to propel the agenda.

1. Integrated and inclusive solutions: singularly focused on bridging water and humanity

The water crisis is more than a resource challenge; it’s a social crisis affecting billions worldwide.1 This critical issue was central to the discussions and events at the UN Water Conference. Marginalized groups, including women and girls who face specific issues related to hygiene and domestic pressures2, bear the brunt of the lack of clean water and sanitation services.

To ensure our water systems are inclusive in the long term, they must be affordable, safely managed, geographically accessible and adapted for disadvantaged groups.3 Projects like Resilient NJ in the US demonstrate the importance of involving marginalized communities in decision-making and implementation processes to ensure we’re truly meeting the needs of all community members when addressing climate resilience.

‘Systems thinking’ is also key. By recognizing the interconnectedness of water-related issues like resource sustainability, biodiversity impact and service accessibility, this approach promotes collaboration among utilities, governments, communities and other stakeholders to navigate competing values and make informed decisions.

For example, our Shelter team in Mozambique learned how floods in the area presented both risks and benefits to the community, helping the team to advise on solutions that protected residents and preserved livelihoods. In Cameroon, we learned that prohibiting activities along the Dibamba River would disconnect communities from their cultural connection to this important landmark. Given this, we collaborated on a permitting system that both promotes responsible engagement and helps preserve cultural ties.

2. No one is an island: partnerships pay off

The water crisis is a complex puzzle that cannot be solved alone. Collaborative efforts such as public-private partnerships mobilize diverse talent, promote agile working frameworks and enable innovative finance structures to maximize outcomes. The 7 Square Endeavour in Rotterdam exemplifies the power of multi-stakeholder collaborations, serving as a groundbreaking success and inspiration for other cities with similar climate goals.

Universities and the tech sector also contribute significantly by developing the science and future capabilities for water optimization needs. This was evident in the Pratt Institute’s ‘Condensations, parts 01|02|03’ event participated by some of our leaders.

Leveraging tech capabilities to provide easy access to information is also key. Together We Walk, for example, is an app we developed collaboratively for the UNWC participants. Through an immersive experience, it offers insights into the history of New York’s water works. The app has been updated to include Water Talks, a podcast produced by the Dutch Ministry for Infrastructure and Water Management which features insightful conversations with key players in the water industry.

 

Together We Walk presents Water Talks

A podcast hosted by Tracy Metz and featured in the Arcadis Together We Walk app. Download it to start streaming.

Get it from the Apple App Store

Get if from Google Play

3. Actionable data: making bigger waves of change

Data drives progress. To accelerate solutions, we must move beyond collecting raw data and focus on extracting actionable insights that guide immediate decision-making. Utilizing data analytics, as demonstrated by the Arcadis Non-Revenue Water Digital Twin platform, helps detect water infrastructure anomalies and prevent significant water loss. Similarly, the 50L Home coalition highlights the potential of water conservation and reuse, demonstrating how consuming just 50L per person per day can prevent water scarcity crises while still enabling a comfortable lifestyle.

4. ‘Novel’ to ‘normal’: making nature-based solutions mainstream

Biodiversity serves as our most powerful defense against climate change, safeguarding our water supply. Nature-based solutions (NBS) that restore and enhance it, such as the Marker Wadden wetland restoration in the Netherlands, offer a way forward.

In some cases, NBS alone may not fully meet the requirements. Integrating green and gray infrastructure, as shown by the Living Breakwaters in New York, combines the strengths of natural and built structures to effectively mitigate storm waves. The benefits are manyfold, spanning economic, ecological and social aspects.

Urban coastal communities can also benefit from a circular water economy, as shown by the One Water project in Santa Monica Bay, California. By diverting urban runoff for treatment and reuse, this holistic strategy increases potable water supply, reduces public health threats through improved beach water quality and enhances resilience against weather extremes like heat waves.

And though steadily declining, mangroves and coral reefs, too, sequester substantial amounts of carbon and serve as buffers against storm surges. The need to restore these natural defenses cannot be overstated.

To scale up its implementation, we must change our mindsets about NBS and green-gray integrations from being a novelty into becoming the norm. Businesses, investors and water utility sectors must integrate these approaches into their planning and design considerations throughout project lifecycles.

5. Role of corporates in shaping the water future

As major water users4, corporations have a responsibility to tackle the water crisis. Reflecting on these key considerations in planning water-related projects will help create resilient and sustainable systems:

  • Partners for shared capabilities, finance models and approaches focused on equity and inclusion
  • Digital tools that provide actionable insights for efficient decision-making
  • A nature-based or integrated solution over usual business practices.

At Arcadis, we see concrete goals as a pathway to the possible. Echoing Global President for Resilience Heather Polinsky’s speech at the UN Water stage, we are committed to achieving gender balance and diversity within our workforce, with a target of 40% women and a focus on underrepresented minorities. We also commit to developing equity-focused frameworks that minimize environmental impacts on communities in every water project. What commitment will you be making?

The Water Environment Federation shares Arcadis’ passion for building a diverse workforce to sustainably solve water challenges to improve quality of life for all. No one entity has all the answers or solutions. By working together, we can impact real change.

 

Together, we want #ClimateAction

Realizing SDG 6 requires action from all fronts. Using digital tools to inform and shape positive perceptions, engaging marginalized groups in planning and implementation processes, and including the private sector in funding mechanisms all work toward more equitable and inclusive water solutions that deliver benefits for both people and planet.

Together, we talk. In our upcoming Thought Leadership Paper on Droughts and Water Scarcity, these lessons learned are further addressed considering the arguably greatest single current threat from climate change: droughts, often resulting in water scarcity. In this inspiring paper we talk with sector leaders, stakeholders, and experts on problems they face, best practices they apply and the attitude, leadership, and collaboration that is required for successful implementation.

Main author: Piet Dircke, Arcadis Global Director for Climate Adaptation

Read original ARCADIS

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Research, implementation vital to solving climate change issues

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Research, implementation vital to solving climate change issues

By Ayeni Olusegun | The Peninsula 28 Jun 2023 

The image above is that of Al Wajbah Fort: A landmark in Qatar’s history and present, credit to The Peninsula, Qatar

Professor Mohammad Irshidat

 

 

Doha, Qatar: Innovative research and implementation are vital to Qatar and the region in light of climate change and environmental issues, Professor Mohammad Irshidat, the Director of the Center for Advanced Materials (CAM) at Qatar University, has disclosed.

In an interview with The Peninsula, Prof Irshidat said the region faces unique environmental challenges, such as extreme heat, humidity and water scarcity. These challenges have made it imperative to prioritise scientific research and take proactive measures to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change.

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is among the most vulnerable to physical climate change impacts, putting human activities and natural systems at high risk.

“Research plays a crucial role in understanding the specific challenges faced by Qatar and the region, as well as identifying effective solutions,” Prof Irshidat told The Peninsula.

“It helps generate valuable data, conduct climate modelling, and assess the vulnerability and risks associated with climate change. This knowledge is essential for making informed decisions and formulating evidence-based policies and strategies,” he added.

The water-stressed MENA already battles with instability in several countries which has damaging environmental consequences leading to severe humanitarian crises. Besides, the impact of oil and gas exploration and the resulting GHG emissions and the lack of arable lands also affect food security, increasing internal hunger displacement among poorer nations in the region. At the same time, the more affluent countries rely more on importation.

However, many modern techniques through research have been funded by Qatar and other countries, especially in the region, to mitigate the impacts of climate change and turn the tide by creating a green and sustainable future.

In 2021, Qatar launched the Qatar National Environment and Climate Change Strategy to protect and enhance the country’s environment, safeguard its population’s well-being and ensure the economy’s long-term resilience.

The strategy also saw Qatar commit to reducing greenhouse (GHG) emissions by 25 percent by 2030, enhancing ambient air quality standards and updating limit values by 2024, among other environmental-friendly policies.

Several countries in the region have also launched sustainability strategies. Despite this, several still find it hard to implement their policies.

Prof Irshidat stressed that implementing research projects is equally essential to addressing sustainability, environmental awareness and climate change.

“Implementation is important, as it involves translating research findings into practical actions. Qatar and the region can benefit significantly from implementing sustainable practices, renewable energy projects, efficient water management systems, and innovative technologies. These initiatives can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, conserve natural resources, protect biodiversity, and build climate resilience,” Prof Irshidat said.

He added that research and implementation contribute to economic diversification and sustainable development. According to him, by investing in clean energy technologies, sustainable agriculture, and green industries, Qatar and the region can create new job opportunities, foster innovation, attract investments, and enhance competitiveness in a rapidly evolving global landscape.

“Research and implementation are paramount to Qatar and the region’s response to climate change and environmental challenges. They provide the knowledge, tools, and actions necessary to build a sustainable and resilient future, ensuring the well-being of current and future generations.”

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Can re-imagining old technology help build a more sustainable future?

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Can re-imagining old technology help build a more sustainable future? Such a question is more and more in everybody’s mind these days.  Here is the answer as envisaged by TAYLOR & FRANCIS GROUP and published by EurekAlert!  In the meantime, could we say that this could not be applicable to those countries of the MENA region since these are still peddling old technologies?

Can re-imagining old technology help build a more sustainable future?

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To pull back our demands on the planet, a sustainable design expert suggests we should be looking back to the future with our technology.

An industrial designer has suggested that old technologies could make a comeback for a more sustainable future – such as wind-up shavers, pedal-powered tools and manual lawn mowers.

In his new book, Re-Imagining Alternative Technology, Brook S Kennedy envisions an innovative revival of underused and abandoned ideas, alongside new creative ones, to tackle global challenges such as climate change, natural resource management and pollution.

“With the global challenge of climate change, managing finite natural resources and pollution, everyone is focused on the biggest and most energy-hungry technologies. I’m suggesting that smaller, cumulative changes in our everyday lives could make a huge difference,” Kennedy explains.

“Rather than starting from scratch and face looking at an impossible task, I am suggesting design could focus on ‘modernizing’ technology we already know works. With some updating and refinement to aesthetics, performance and usability, these technologies could easily be brought back into re-use.”

Re-imagining nostalgic technologies

Kennedy is an award-winning industrial designer and Associate Professor in the School of Architecture, Arts and Design at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech), US.

There his research focuses on topics in sustainable design and materials, appropriate technology, and biodesign.

Some of the nostalgic technologies he believes could make a valuable comeback include passive wind-harnessing cooling systems and human-assisted powered tools and appliances, and reusable, repairable durable goods that have become disposable in today’s context.

He also makes the case for ‘reimagining’ other domestic appliances including examples like manual carpet-sweepers and water collectors, as well as advocating for a return to reusable, durable products such as razors you can sharpen and shoe soles you can re-sole and repair.

As well as looking to the past for inspiration, Kennedy also looks at warmer climates to see if we can learn from other cultures.

He explains: “If many of these so-called forgotten alternative technologies are still common and in use mainly outside the United States, why can’t we make some changes and apply them here?”

He suggests Persian wind catchers could be used as a passive and low-energy house-cooling technique, and fog-catchers like those used in Chile and Morocco could be adapted for large-scale water-harvesting.

For public transport, Kennedy suggests the popular bicycle highways of the 1900s, as seen in Pasadena, could make a comeback, as well as water-powered funicular trains and ferries.

“There are so many more examples in transportation, architecture, and product design. Designers could help bring contemporary relevance to passive and ecological technologies, from awnings, manual carpet sweepers and more, which would have a cumulative effect on energy consumption and waste across the built environment.”

 

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