Quite a day here at Cliscep Headquarters. Watch the space above this post for a couple of goodies coming up Wednesday morning.
Meanwhile, we’re delighted to welcome on board renowned Guardian environmental reporter Suzanne Goldenberg with the Sceptical Scoop of the year. She’s finally decided to come over from the dark side – seeking asylum from the asylum as it were – and we’re glad to welcome her on board. For contractual reasons she has been obliged to break her WholeEarth-shattering story revealing the absolute futility of the Green Dream over at the Guardian. Since we’re banned from commenting there, we’ll simply reproduce the choice parts of her report below. For the full thing, and for comments from the Guardian’s team of sock puppets, go here:
Masdar’s Zero-Carbon Dream Could Become World’s First Green Ghost Town.
Years from now passing travellers may marvel at the grandeur and the folly of the futuristic landscape on the edges of Abu Dhabi: the barely occupied office blocks, the deserted streets, the vast tracts of undeveloped land and – most of all – the abandoned dream of a zero-carbon city.
Masdar City, when it was first conceived a decade ago, was intended to revolutionise thinking about cities and the built environment. Now the world’s first planned sustainable city – the marquee project of the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) plan to diversify the economy from fossil fuels – could well be the world’s first green ghost town.
As of this year – when Masdar was originally scheduled for completion – managers have given up on the original goal of building the world’s first planned zero-carbon city.
Masdar City is nowhere close to zeroing out its greenhouse gas emissions now, even at a fraction of its planned footprint. And it will not reach that goal even if the development ever gets fully built, the authorities admitted.
“We are not going to try to shoehorn renewable energy into the city just to justify a definition created within a boundary,” said Chris Wan, the design manager for Masdar City.
“As of today, it’s not a net zero future,” he said. “It’s about 50%.”
When Masdar City began, in 2006, the project was touted as a model for a green mixed-use urban landscape: a global hub for the cleantech industry, with 50,000 residents and 40,000 commuters. […] a car-free city scape, with Jetson-style driverless electric cars shuttling passengers between buildings incorporating built-in shades and kitted out with smart technologies to resist the scorching desert heat, and keep cooling costs down…
Ten years on, however, only a fraction of the town has been built – less than 5% of the original six square km “greenprint”, as Wan called it. The completion date has been pushed back to 2030.
The core of Masdar City is in place, anchored by the large square-ish building that is the Middle East headquarters of Siemens… As many as 300 other firms such as GE’s Ecomagination and Lockheed Martin also have an official presence – though Wan acknowledged that in many cases that just amounts to a hot desk.
The International Renewable Energy Agency took over the other major building for its shimmering steel headquarters last year… the agency’s 90 or so staffers are the only occupants of the six-storey, 32,000m space…
The pioneering autonomous transport system – which was originally supposed to stretch to 100 stations – was scrapped after the first two stops.
There is a bike-sharing station – though it’s a good 10 miles away from Abu Dhabi, and there are no bike paths.
… delivering on the original dream of Masdar has been elusive. Crews broke ground in 2008, but plans withered in the global economic recession which soon followed when investors put their green dreams on hold. “A lot of the people who were considering investing in Masdar City decided to take a breather,” Wan said.
Meanwhile, the jet-set transport system was overtaken by technological developments in the auto sector. The expensive purpose-built system no longer made sense in an era when zero-emission electric cars were widely available. “Five years ago it’s true that we did not perceive the speed with which the electric vehicle would be developed,” Wan said.
But he insisted that Masdar was not a total failure. “Masdar is part of an evolutionary process,” he said.