Far lower CO2 emissions, cleaner air and water, less meat on the dinner table, and less spending on consumer goods are key features of a near future in which humanity brings climate change under control, Danish Member of Parliament Ida Auken writes in a recent post for the World Economic Forum.
In her 2030 “CO-topia” vision, Auken describes a world where “you walk out of your front door in the morning into a green and liveable city, where concrete has dwindled and green facades and parks are spreading. If you choose to call a car, an algorithm will calculate the smartest route for the vehicle and pick up a few other people on the way.”
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A municipal ban on private automobiles has given rise to a range of new mobility services that are less expensive than car ownership and work alongside bikes, scooters, and transit to reduce roadway congestion. “The air you breathe in the city is cleaner because there are far fewer cars on the streets and the rest are electric—all electricity is green in fact,” she writes.
“There is less noise and much more space for parks and pedestrian streets since all the parking space became available. For lunch you can choose from dozens of exciting meals—most of them are plant-based, so you eat more healthily and are more environmentally friendly than when lunch meant choosing between five types of burger.”
Single-use plastics are a “distant memory”, with to-go coffee served in reusable cups and all containers subject to a return deposit. Consumer goods last longer, shifts in living arrangements make it easier for more people to live in cities, and “the money in your wallet will be spent on being with family and friends, not on buying goods”.
The shift in consumer culture is one of the cornerstones of Auken’s vision. “Because citizens have stopped buying so much stuff, they have more money to spend on other things,” she writes. “This new disposable income is spent on services: cleaning, gardening, help with laundry, healthy and easy meals to cook, entertainment, experiences, and fabulous new restaurants. All of these things give the average modern person more options and more free time to spend with their friends and families, working out, learning new skills, playing sports, or making art—you name it, and there’s more time to do it.”
In the end, “saving the climate involves huge change, but it could make us much happier at the same time,” Auken writes. “If we consider what the future could be, picking up the mantle against climate change may not seem so bad after all.”
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