Planned regulated living

Keywords: Strong government; sustainable urbanism; egalitarianism; public investment; public service; acceptance of behavioral and consumption freedoms as trade-off for environmental and social security.

Key emission reductions: Public investment in sustainable urbanism; well designed, integrated and operated buildings, precincts and cities; public information-communication on environmental performance to boost adherence to behavioural norms.

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This is a city of planned order. Everywhere in the city there is evidence of significant past challenges and crises and of the evolving democratic consensus that the challenges posed by a carbon and resource constrained world are best addressed through tighter regulations and laws that limit behaviour and practices to an acceptable environmental and social norm.

Rational and technocratic approaches guide all areas of development and the use of public assets and capital. Private sector activity is strongly regulated and there is great public trust that the balance between corporate profits and public needs is well managed by government. Environmental and social ethics is expected to guide all decision making for maximum societal benefits.

An 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions has been achieved through: public investment in renewable energy supplies and grid-connected storage; public production of (non-food based) biofuels; reducing per capita energy and material consumption through technological efficiencies, changes in social behaviour and large scale public investment in improving existing building stock; the planning and the evolution of a more compact ‘twenty minute city’, with comprehensive and integrated public transport systems, including bicycling, walking and driverless electric taxis and small community shuttles. Building codes and standards are strong and regularly tightened. Business premises are more dispersed away from the city centre and teleworking from distributed hubs across the city accounts for almost half of working hours.

“I believe that through government’s leadership, strategic planning, a good vision and ability to implement you can actually achieve quite significant change in cities. […] We can’t make cities work effectively unless there’s a single governance body around an urban conurbation like the mayor of London, that actually probably really drives the show when it comes to urban management…urban management [can] be real time. Data will be … available instantaneously. City leaders will be able to make real time management decisions, to improve the efficiencies of their cities and make them more productive, more liveable and more sustainable” – Stephen Yarwood.

New behaviours and practices (and limitations on consumption generally) align with the imposed conditions as citizens accept the social value of such acquiescence; culturally this is much more significant than individuals who proactively seek more sustainable lifestyles. City information systems are ubiquitous and publicly owned; they provide feedback on consumption levels, for individuals and for communities. Systems of provision of food, water, energy, transport and waste are based on a distributed model (more localised and networked) and emphasise diversity and redundancy to contribute to increasing resilience in the face of a changing climate and more frequent extreme events.

The progressive retrofit of existing built infrastructure to meet stringent environmental performance standards has been achieved through government programs and public investment; this has helped keep employment high even as automation has increased in most areas of production. This is one example of the growth of public services that help the community to maintain environmental standards.

Economic identity is defined by: a market where real full costs of all commodities are recognised and priced (internalised costs); consumers and producers who strongly focus on the public good; consumers accepting careful, moderated consumption for social and environmental well-being; businesses that accept they have a responsibility beyond shareholders; wide social agreement on directions for research and innovation and for high government expenditure on this area; the provision of public infrastructure that makes living a very low-carbon existence easy; valuing of collective, community needs over individual interests and greater equity; and growth measured in various forms of social prosperity as well as GDP.

“Each of us has our own vision about what the sort of city that we’d like to live in is like. Those sorts of things will only come out of a consensual discussion around what the city should be like. That’s why I mentioned deliberative democracy, where we need to get some handle on what we want into the future in a way that’s beyond government policy, or whatever Lend Lease thinks is the best thing, all the banks think are the best thing.” – Tim Flannery