How reducing carbon emissions could rejuvenate Preston’s economy

Artists impression of a future-Roeselare, one of the 10 European cities City-Zen Roadshow aims to improve. Photo taken from City-Zen Roadshow's website.

City-zen’s Roadshow has arrived in Preston to propose changes to the city, in an effort to reduce carbon emissions across Europe. Upgrading to a carbon-neutral city would be not be too costly and can lead to savings for home-owners and taxpayers, argues Professor Greg Keeffe.

According to Prof. Keeffe, every house-hold produces about 7 tonnes of CO2 from heating, lighting and mobility each year. “Oil is too cheap. They’re just burning it for fun at the moment, that needs to change,” he said, adding “I think all the things we want to do for the city are local jobs. Adding insulation to buildings, putting new windows in, putting photovoltaics (solar panels) on the roof, all those things are jobs that ordinary people can do, that a robot can’t do. If you engage with it, it’ll boost your economy massively.”

City-Zen’s Roadshow’s estimates that the insulation jobs required in Northern Ireland could keep installers in business for 35 years, and that Preston is in a similar position. “Preston Council need to start a local climate protection procurement and paying to have all the houses climate-protected and energy efficient. When you look at all the other things like renewable energy and cycle lanes and things like that, there’s hundreds of jobs to come. Low-carbon’s got to be cheap, eventually, because there’s no bills”.

He also believes that green travel is one of the most important steps we can take. “One of the ideas is to remove the cars from the city. Cars make up about 30% of the carbon footprint, [the rest comes from] houses, waste, water, electricity production, food production and materials. There’s 8 years of a car’s energy in a car before you buy it, it takes 8 times the energy you use [driving] in one year to make the car in the first place.” he warned.

“Bikes are much lower [energy consumers during production]. Everyone drives cars, the number of bus users is decreasing, the number of bike journeys is tiny, and people are, basically, all buying cars and driving around. The only way to change that is to change the connectivity of the city. People won’t walk if they can’t walk in the direction they want to go in.

“Autonomous cars will change everything, they’ll be electric-powered, they’ll be self-driving so there’ll be no point in owning one. If you had an all-car-share city you’d have ten times fewer cars, yet you’d get everywhere three times faster.”

For more information on the City-Zen Roadshow’s objectives, click here.