If cities have an advantage in working towards climate neutrality it probably lies in their closeness to their citizens. Many people identify closely with the city where they were born or where they live, which is why local politics and local news media are often far more interesting to many people than what happens on the national stage. Local governments add to atmospheric damage when they design city centres to suit vehicles, not pedestrians, and when they design buildings to the cheapest and not the highest standards. They do so by ignoring their own environmental footprint, the huge swathe of surrounding
countryside from which they absorb many resources, resources they could often fi nd within their own limits, obviating the need for transport. They do so by giving low or no priority to recycling and waste disposal policies.
National governments have a key role to play in working towards climate neutrality. They can apply various instruments that can change people’s behaviour. Legislation and economic incentives, used in the right mix, will make a great difference. Twenty years ago many governments acted to reduce and then eliminate the use of ozone-destroying CFCs. There were protests, but it happened. Today, however, a few governments are markedly reluctant to give a similar lead to cutting damaging climate emissions. This leaves business and industry confused or unable to act, for fear of losing markets to less scrupulous competitors. It also leaves individual citizens unconvinced that climate change really is a problem at all: if it mattered, they argue, then surely the government would do something about it. And beyond the domestic agenda governments have the option to downplay, or not, the urgency of what is happening.
THE ACTORS KICK THE HABIT 51