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Re: [carfree_cities] ASPO meeting, Lisbon

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  • Christopher Miller
    ... OK, I ll brainstorm here and throw out some ideas. The workshop has a couple of topics ( http://www.cge.uevora.pt/aspo2005/topics.php ) where presenting
    Message 1 of 3 , Apr 4, 2005
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      On Apr 4, 2005, at 1:47 PM, J.H. Crawford wrote:

      > Hi All,
      >
      > On May 19-20 I'll be attending the ASPO meeting in Lisbon.
      > This will be attended by all the big names in peak-oil studies.
      > Some of these folks (e.g., Matt Simmons) have influence in
      > high places.
      >
      > I've got a poster reserved for carfree cities and will
      > take some flyers if I can get the ready in time. Does
      > anyone have any idea what we ought to be trying to say
      > to these folks?

      OK, I'll brainstorm here and throw out some ideas.

      The workshop has a couple of topics (
      http://www.cge.uevora.pt/aspo2005/topics.php ) where presenting the
      idea of carfree cities fits in well. I think the most relevant are:

      • Impacts of Depletion in Oil Importing Countries: The Demand Pressure
      • The World Past Peak Oil Age

      (BTW, the ASPO people are also interested in natural gas depletion.)

      Obviously, the first one is mostly about CARS: though I don't have the
      statistics (does someone on the list know where the stats are?) I am
      pretty sure that the major use of cars is for transportation *within*
      rather than *between* urban areas. Whatever the statistics, you
      certainly have a huge chunk of demand right there.

      The second topic is where I'm sure you are going to hear the
      traditional alternatives of fuel cell, hydrogen, electric batteries,
      compressed air, and biofuel etc. being raised as solutions. This is
      *also* mainly about satisfying demand for powering CARS. This is where
      the *other *alternative, reducing demand by reducing or eliminating car
      use, needs to be brought up.

      I would suggest:

      1. A critique of alternative power sources whose motivation is
      maintaining business with cars, especially within urban areas but also
      for intercity transport (not to forget that none of the alternatives is
      practical for air transport).

      It is worthwhile to mention the implications of the Millennium
      Ecosystem Assessment, especially given the scenario of using farmland
      to grow fuel for cars: I wonder, for example, how much of the
      rainforest to farmland conversion going on in Brazil is due to the
      demand for fields to grow crops for ethanol? As for the other power
      alternatives, the central question is when they could be made available
      at a large scale, and *whether* they could be made available at a scale
      similar to petroleum, and how economically practical it could be to
      have a mixture of all these technologies at a large scale just to keep
      the cars rolling.

      Big point: somewhere along the line, we are all collectively going to
      have to choose our priorities. Petroleum and natural as, as scarce and
      ever more expensive resources, are going to have to be reserved over
      the coming decades for applications more crucial than driving
      everywhere.

      2. Arguments for replacing autocentric infrastructure with (denser)
      carfree cities and train-based intercity transport. Shifting away from
      sprawl to denser urban areas should also have *some* (how big though?)
      effect on demand for gas/oil for heating. If you can find the stats for
      petroleum and gas consumption in urban areas, that would give some
      indication of how gradually moving toward a carfree (and busfree) model
      might alleviate the difficulties ahead.

      (I would mention "In town without my car" days around the world,
      downtown Copenhagen's gradual pedestrianization, Delanoë's and
      Livingstone's efforts in Paris and London, the "Mont-Royal avenue
      verte" movement in Montreal's Plateau district etc. to show that a
      demand is there.)

      It might be worthwhile presenting several alternative hypothetical
      scenarios for impact on the post-peak transition based on how quickly a
      carfree transition is made, what kind of city we are dealing with
      (traditional compact European city vs an Atlanta or LA etc.). Bringing
      this up as a set of hypotheses for further research might get someone
      at the workshop interested in collaborating on an in-depth study that
      would bolster the case for moving to a carfree model. The question of
      topologies would be worth thinking about here. Cities with an already
      dense urban fabric basically impose a topology on you, so the best way
      to adapt New York, Washington DC or Montreal, for example, would be to
      use a criss-cross grid. Older cities in Europe, Asia and Africa would
      require another topology (cf. the Lyon Protocol). Suburban areas in
      North America, Australia and others that have gone to sprawl might be
      most suitable to variants of the tangent loops ("mandala") topology you
      propose in the book: I think it would be an effective way of bringing
      about densification (with its advantages) while at the same time
      returning significant areas of land to agriculture or wilderness.

      3. Of course, there are the other arguments for the benefits of carfree
      cities at the human and social level, which go beyond the question of
      how urban form and fuel demand interact. No harm in arguing that
      carfree cities would overall be more humane environments than the
      cities we have today.

      Christopher Miller
      Washington DC/Mount Rainier, Maryland
      USA
    • Christopher Miller
      One more thing: Moving to a carfree model fits in well with the Depletion Protocol proposed by Colin Campbell and cited on the page I linked to in my previous
      Message 2 of 3 , Apr 4, 2005
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        One more thing:

        Moving to a carfree model fits in well with the Depletion Protocol
        proposed by Colin Campbell and cited on the page I linked to in my
        previous message. Points 1d and 2b seem particularly relevant.

        1. A convention of nations shall be called to consider the issue
        with a view to agreeing an Accord with the following objectives:

        a. to avoid profiteering from shortage, such that oil prices may
        remain in reasonable relationship with production cost;
        b. to allow poor countries to afford their imports;
        c. to avoid destabilising financial flows arising from excessive
        oil prices;
        d. to encourage consumers to avoid waste;
        e. to stimulate the development of alternative energies.

        2. Such an Accord shall have the following outline provisions:

        a. No country shall produce oil at above its current Depletion
        Rate, such being defined as annual production as a percentage of the
        estimated amount left to produce;
        b. Each importing country shall reduce its imports to match the
        current World Depletion Rate, deducting any indigenous production.

        If ever something like this protocol *were* adopted as international
        law, I think we would likely already be so far down the slope it would
        hardly matter any more. Just look at how long it has taken to put the
        measly measures of the Kyoto Protocol into practice (and how little
        enthusiasm some signatories are already showing in actually carrying
        them out).

        Christopher Miller
        Washington DC/Mount Rainier, Maryland
        USA
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