Jay Carson, Cities, and Climate...no wait Donald Trump & Tori Spelling!

I rarely read Fortune magazine.  OK, that's an overstatement.  But it came across my desktop last week when they ran an interview with Jay Carson, disheveled CEO of the newly formed C40 Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI).

If you've been around the block, you'll know that neither the C40 nor the CCI Cities programs are new. C40 and the CCI have been collaboratively running one of the world's largest municipal climate programs since 2006.  The expanded alliance, announced earlier this month, is really more of a reorganization and streamlining of an existing partnership.

But - when I wasn't distracted by the sidebar trumpeting scandals about Donald's net worth and Tori Spelling's estate being up for sale - I thought that Carson made a few good points about why cities are such important players when it comes to climate change policy. He also gave away a few insights as to why the C40 has had only a relatively limited impact so far.


Railway Opens Tokyo's Largest Rooftop Farm

JR East railway, one of Tokyo's largest railway operators, has opened a 535 sq.m. (5758 sq.ft.) rooftop farm on top of the company's Lumine Ogikubo Building.

Part of a series of buildings linked to the Ogikubo railway and metro station, the garden is being billed as the largest rooftop farm on a commercial building in Tokyo. Althoug calling it a "farm" gives the impression that it will house commercial agriculture (like this one in Montreal). In fact, the "Soradofarm Lumine" is more like a rooftop community garden where Tokyoites who want to get their hands dirty can rent out plots. (So far I've only found this architects illustration, but I'm hoping for some photos before long.)


Small-Scale Water Systems take on Drought, Urban Decay, and Climate Change

By 2025 two-thirds of the global population will live in conditions of at least moderate water stress.  According to an interesting piece by Howard LaFranchi in last weekend's CS Monitor, community-scale systems -- not mega-projects -- may provide solutions for a thirsty world.

I've written about the value of decentralized neighbourhood or community scale infrastructure before.  When it comes to renewable energy, talking about the efficiencies that result from generating energy closer to where it's used is becoming old hat.

There's interest both in North America and Europe – where nearly 10% of electricity vanishes as line-loss as it travel from plant to plug – and in Africa and Asia, where local renewable energy systems transform lives by bringing affordable reliable power without the costs of energy mega-projects.  Many of the same arguments apply when it comes to water.


Cities Running Huge Risks by Ignoring Climate Change II: UN Habitat Report PDFs

I've been amazed at how little attention UN Habitat's Report on Cities and Climate Change has garnered since its release at the end of March.

The report (which I contributed to) makes some important points, summarized in an earlier entry, both about the risks that cities face, and the areas where municipal policies can have significant impacts. The report also targets Canadian cities for missing the boat in key areas, especially land-use planning.

I decided to repost on the report and include a link to the PDF of the abridged version, as well as the full case study that I wrote on Durban, South Africa. I think the Durban example is particularly relevant, for cities North and South, because it highlights the negative impact that institutional inertia can have effective climate policies. It shows what can happen when cities, or departments inside of cities, really encourage innovation and creativity. 


Bixi Sighting: New Ads Mark Roll Out of 2011 Bikes

Here are some of the first bixis of 2011, notice anything different? New ads, mounted above the wheel and on the baskets, have raised a lot of criticism on Twitter so far.

Most of the docking-stations around town are still empty. But bixis are starting to appear, here in Mile-End outside CafĂ© Olypmico, ahead of Friday's launch. (Andy Riga of The Gazette, has more photos.)

Canada's Crumbling Intrastructure - The Big Non-Issue of this Election

It's no secret that Canada is running a massive infrastructure deficit.  Four years ago the Canadian Federation of Municipalities pegged the price tag for renewing aging bridges, roadways, transportation and sewage systems at $123 billion. 

Writing in the Globe and Mail today, Barrie McKenna does something I've been meaning to do for a while now:  add to that number the costs for major upgrades that need to be made to keep up with increasing demands for transit and sewage treatment facilities, as well as modernizing our outdated electricity grid.

All told, he estimates we are looking at $531.8 billion in work that needs to be done to keep our cities, and our economy, running the way we expect them to. Makes you wonder why this hasn't been on the election radar so far in Canada, and why the Conservatives economy stimulus spending didn't do a better job of targeting these areas.

Looking back to the 2008 elections, you can see that overlooking cities - especially among Conservatives - is nothing new.  A few excerpts after the jump, or read the full article here.


Bixi Rolling Out for 3rd Season In MTL

If you are in Montreal right now you've seen it:  the Bixi docking stations are popping up all over the city. Sitting empty they have a strange sci-fi ghost town look.  But the bikes are supposed to be back on the streets by April 15th. Ottawa has also added itself to the  constantly growing number of cities using the Bixi system - the launch there is scheduled for May.


America's Smallest Apartment: Walkable Micro-living in NYC

New York-based writer Felice Cohen lives in an amazingly small apartment -- 90 sq.ft. to be exact. Since it was profiled in the Daily Mail, this video of her micro-abode has gone viral.  Cohen's Manhattan apartment isn't breathtaking in terms of design. Tiny homes I've covered before (here, here) definitely take the cake on that front.  I also can't help thinking that it must be pretty hard to have... what should I say ... “company” ... in that low cielinged loft bed. But Cohen's reasons for going small are what I find most interesting.

Cohen started her experiment in micro-living as a one year thing.  That morphed into three and she shows no signs of tiring.


This is a blog for news and views on the future of sustainable cites. A major revamp is in the works. Until then I am keeping this version up as an archive of my past writing.

You can expect occasional updates, but not with the same frequency as in the past.

You can also find my writing on urban redesign and sustainability in ReNew Canada, The Mark, Sustainable Cities Canada, WorldChanging, and other more specialized academic publications.

Info on my consulting work, c.v. and current research focus is all here.

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