Solar Cities Congress, Oxford, April 2006
The quality of future life on earth is on a slow but accelerating decline. The cause is the outcome of the profligacy with which the world’s finite reserves of fossil fuels have been used. It is imperative that all realistic means are now found for dramatically switching to energy-thrifty practices from current ones. The structural forms and layouts as well as the detailed design elements of solar cities can make a significant contribution to this objective by exploiting the direct and indirect benefits of the sun’s energy.
Given any realistic appraisal of the scale of new developments that can be built over the next few decades, success can only be very limited: the existing settlements in which most people now live will remain during this period but are far less amenable to physical change.
In the case of both new and existing settlements, however, it can be predicted that in the absence of strongly motivating government regulation and support insufficient progress will be made in maximising the intrinsic advantages of the solar approach To speed up progress to that end, this paper will argue that a framework within which government’s adopted targets on greenhouse gas emission reductions will be met is essential. Such a framework has been developed by the Global Commons Institute ‑ Contraction and Convergence. It is already commanding wide international support. Within the framework, personal carbon allowances will increasingly encourage practices which minimise the use of fossil fuels such as those intrinsic to solar-oriented solutions. That will drive the process of the adoption these solutions in planning and architecture far more effectively than advocating the benefits of solar power in the hope that in due course these will be recognised and exploited.