Carbon neutral cities

This is one of the hot topics, talking about carbon neutral cities and setting goals to achieve it in about 10 years. With all due respect, I think that almost everything that is being talked about is an accumulation of good intentions that is very difficult to fulfill.

Almost 70% of the planet’s inhabitants live in urban areas, and these generate more than 60% of polluting emissions. And as human concentration is going to increase in cities in the coming years, the problem of pollution increases every day.

Therefore, it is more than necessary for our cities to change to try to be carbon neutral, but to achieve this we must produce many profound changes that affect our way of life and that will take a long time to put into practice. Our habits of life do not change from one day to the next.

How do you convince people to stop using their car to use public transportation? In the first place, having good and efficient public transport, and then adopting measures that favor them, although sometimes the use of private vehicles has to be penalized. This is not an easy decision that meets a lot of resistance, especially in those places where people have used their car for almost everything for decades.

How do we make buildings use less energy for heating and cooling? Today there are technical means available to make buildings more efficient and therefore more neutral from the energy point of view, but that is not cheap. And especially expensive is the adaptation of existing buildings, which are a majority.

Today you can build more neutral buildings generating less polluting impact, but building them is somewhat more expensive, and we all seek the economy in the short term, so the change of the materials to be used occurs very slowly.

I am not surprised by the “joy” of politicians when they set goals to have neutral cities by 2030 and 2040, because they know perfectly well that they are goals that no one is going to demand of them in 20 or more years. And these objectives also serve them to put measures (expansion of car-free zones, etc …) that in the long term benefit cities so that they become more neutral, and incidentally get a handful of votes.

If all this serves to make people aware that we have to change, I take it as well used. But please do not believe that in 20 years’ time cities will be carbon neutral, because some things are desires and others are realities.

Which is not an obstacle for us to do our bit and do everything necessary to make our presence as neutral as possible.



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Amador Palacios

I am an electronic engineer with more than 40 years working in industry. I like to reflect on Technological and Social issues