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Smart Cities, Sustainable Cities!

By 2030, cities around the world will be responsible for 74% of the greenhouse gas emissions. Facing this challenge, we must not only be ambitious but also visionary. In this spirit, we must give priority to the circular economy and eco-design, foster environmental education and choose a radical and effective energy transition. Cities have always been in the forefront of change. Cities in Europe have countless of concrete solutions that will enable humanity to overcome the planetary challenges that we have already started to face.   We must reinvent our cities, finding novel ways for our fellow citizens to make way for cultural, economic, social and societal innovation. In this respect, we must truly use technological innovation at the service of sustainable cities, ensuring that our European cities are the most prosperous and dynamic on earth. Their strength comes from values of tolerance and mutual respect that unite our peoples far more than our differences divided us. Tolerance equals strength!   A year after President Trump announced the US exit from the Paris Climate Agreement we need to continue our collective fight with unwavering determination. We need to knock down walls and put up bridges. We need for forge truly progressive urban policies for cities where life is good.   We need to continue to fight contamination, choosing clean energies and favoring electric modes of transportation, car-pooling and cycling. We need even stronger commitment towards finding the proper solutions to achieve universal shared progress for the good of the people. For this reason, we need to ensure that we can collect best practices on ecological transformation across Europe, using in-depth local and regional knowledge.
2 months, 2 weeks ago in The Europe of Tomorrow; it’s left!
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Promoting cycling is a good start. The Netherlands is a great example of cycling motorways and hopefully Germany will follow suit soon. In Tallinn, Estonia, there is currently free public transport. In Germany, public transport costs have been substantially reduced. These are brilliant examples of combating air pollution and showing how simple changes can help to mitigate climate change. https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2016/oct/11/tallinn-experiment-estonia-public-transport-free-cities In terms of air travel, I think we should consider more radical changes. Could a limit on air travel for each person be a good idea? Obviously there have to be exceptions such as business people but it’s certainly worth considering. Could we expand train and bus travel over distances within the same country instead of flying? e.g. the new train between London and Amsterdam takes only hours and eliminates the need to board a flight. I really hope the Socialists and Democrats can lead by example on this matter.

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Other posts in The Europe of Tomorrow; it’s left!

These are testing times for progressive Europeans. Moving Europe forward requires a programmatic revitalisation of Social Democracy. Sustainability should play a crucial part. This means we have to ensure the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN Agenda 2030. This move has to come from the bottom up, driven by cities and regions to ensure a high quality of life everywhere in Europe. A consistent long-term strategy (rather than short-term tactics) must be devised and it should, in my opinion, include the following: 1.) Clear measures to battle social, economic and territorial inequalities, specifically providing the most vulnerable people with opportunities to lift themselves out of poverty and social exclusion. 2.) Empower local and regional communities to achieve our strategy. Local and regional governments should be given more leeway in funding and decision-making, supported in a coordinated effort by national and European authorities. We must give the people on the ground the chance to participate in the debate and be the driving force of this social and ecological transformation. 3.) An energetic transition shifting to renewable energy sources, away from fossil and nuclear power. This must include a comprehensive jobs program in the clean energy sector, with significant investment in the building of energy infrastructure, training and social protection measures for those who are affected the most by this transition. 4.) Promote low-emission mobility by extending and improving the functionality and sustainability of affordable public transport solutions in urban and rural areas. Again, this demands investment in infrastructure like bike lanes, low-emission buses, train lines and charging stations for electrical vehicles. 5.) Build a circular economy and help build a new corporate responsibility culture. Large-scale waste reduction is both economically and ecologically viable. We must strive to build a business culture that encourages the re-use of goods and renounces single-use production patterns. Only if production patterns (such as plastic packaging) become more eco-friendly, consumption patterns can follow suit. State of the art eco-efficient recycling and waste management facilities should become the standard of European cities and municipalities, creating jobs and saving natural resources. Social Democracy has recently struggled on the European and national level. In the cities, however, we are alive and kicking. Cities like Paris, London, Berlin, Milan and Vienna are great examples for that. Let’s trust our people on the ground and help them achieve tangible results. Let’s build a truly progressive Europe from the bottom up. Then, I’m sure, European Social Democracy will pass this test of time!

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