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Low-carbon cities can be engineered to eliminate 100% of fossil-fueled private transporation



Studies indicate that the energy-efficient compact urban form can reduce transportation related energy use by up to 90% when compared with energy-intensive sprawling cities.

This transportation sector plan for a low-carbon compact city will have the following goals.

  • Elimination of 100% of fossil-fueled personal transportation.
  • Electrification of public transit.
  • Use of electric vehicles for on-demand or private transport.
  • Reduced GHG emissions from commercial and public vehicles.

What actions do you propose?

This proposal does not attempt to tell transportation professionals and experts how to do their job. This proposal assumes the latest practical ‘all-of-the-above’ technologies will be evaluated by transportation professionals using the latest research, tools and computer models to design and engineer the multi-modal transportation system of a low-carbon compact city.

Who will take these actions?

Transportation sector corporations, academics, and professionals to design and engineer the transportation needs of a low-carbon compact city along with the organizations and contractors needed to actually site, finance, plan and build new cities.   As explained in the United States Climate Action proposal for building low-carbon cities from the ground-up, new cities can be started today without waiting for public acceptance, taxpayer subsidies or excessive developer profit. 

Where will these actions be taken?

The key challenge of this plan is to form an organization capable of siting, financing and performing the minimum pre-construction planning necessary to break ground on a new low-carbon city.  The related United States Regional Plan for building low-carbon cities provides the means of forming this organization along with other challenges.

How much will emissions be reduced or sequestered vs. business as usual levels?

What are other key benefits?

Environmental Benefits:  Reduction in the United States fossil-fueled emissions and resultant environmental improvements. 

Social Benefits:  Improved health, elimination of local auto deaths, and many other benefits of living in a pedestrian-oriented ‘built environment’ free from the emissions and noise of fossil-fueled private transportation.

Economic Benefits:   A low-carbon compact city will have a lower cost to build and maintain transportation infrastructure, roads, fewer garages, etc.  Lowers the cost-of-living for inhabitants by not requiring car ownership.  Reduced health and social costs.  Higher economic multiplier to use locally generated electricity for public transit than the 85% of the cost of gasoline leaving the local community or country.

What are the proposal’s costs?

The transportation system of a compact city can be financed with its own revenue streams.    A ‘built environment’ with convenient public transportation can reduce the city’s cost to build and maintain infrastructure while reducing an individual’s transportation cost by about 60%.   Driverless (or otherwise) electric cars on demand will also be available from private companies for those willing to pay for the service.  Since a low-carbon city will be built from the ground up over many years with its own evolving transportation system, there will be no immediate cost or disruption to the existing transportation sector already considering the projected disruptions of the next 20 years from on-demand services, driverless vehicles and taxis, 3D printed vehicles, etc. 

Time line

This plan to build new cities will take a generation, or more.    By increasing each new city’s population by 25,000 annually, it will take a city 10 years to obtain a population of 250,000, 20 years for 500,000 and 40 years for 1,000,000 inhabitants.   This plan is most likely to be executed over the project’s lifetime by those currently in their early 20s who will most likely be impacted by increasing disruptions from climate change. 

Related proposals

There does not currently seem to be any publically known project to build a larger demographically balanced low-carbon compact city from the ground-up in the United States.   Most larger-scale projects are either traditional development requiring cars for transportation, or eco-village transportation hub projects to serve as bedroom communities to larger cities with higher density multi-family structures, mixed-use limited to high-rent corporate chains, and an absolute minimum of greenspace, parks, large public spaces, schools, or the desired walkable amenities of either a larger city or resort community. 


Rode, P., Floater, G., Thomopoulos, N., Docherty, J., Schwinger, P., Mahendra, A., and Fang, W. (2014): Accessibility in Cities: Transport and Urban Form. NCE Cities Paper 03. LSE Cities. London School of Economics and Political Science.

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