questions and answers to most important question:
What can larger regions/countries/companies learn from these isolated experiments on Samsö/El Hierro, etc and what is the significance that communities are attempting to become independent of fossil fuel and source more of their energy needs regionally? The significance that communities are attempting to become less vulnerable to energy price shocks or potential supply shortage is very high. The communities have to implement what EU/nations/countries decide on a very high level: without the communities we will not be able to reach the climate policy goals or energy change. In small islands it might be easier (both mentioned islands are tourist islands, so they are more attractive if they offer sustainable tourism), however also big cities have to change: make everything CO2 free and sustainable: strengthen public transportation, improve road system, attraction for bicyle and /or alternative fuels as well as electro mobility. Improve waste recycling, avoid noise, increase green areas etc etc. Hamburg will be the green city of Europe in 2011, Stockholm is it already as they have shown a long list of changes and attempts to change. How realistic is it that larger cities will be able to replicate these efforts and become much more `energy independent’ than they are now? I think it is realistic, especially in large cities the options of public transportation, car sharing, alternative fuel (biofuels, hydrogen, fuel cell etc) or electro-mobility can implemented more easily. In the future people will not buy a car but demand mobility as in Ulm the “car to go “concept shows: people drive with a car to go and pay for their minutes they drive. In large cities, sustainability plays an important role: avoid noise and particles, increase fresh air and improve water quality, effective and sustainable waste recycling and so on. Stockholm is living this very impressively, Hamburg has good approaches. In the future, more and more people will live in big cities. So sustainability will increase. Are these energy independence experiments already reaping low energy costs? The higher the price for fossil fuel will go, the lower the energy costs. Price for oil will go up. Our economy bases on cheap oil. Each nation, region and city is better off if fossil fuel demand is declined. How important is municipal leadership in making transportation more sustainable? Very important! We need the municipal leadership in order to change the transportation system towards more sustainability. For long distance travelling, we have to change the fuels towards alternative fuels away from oil, for short distance transportation (and in Germany 80 % of all trips are below 20 kilometres), we should combine public transportation with car and bike sharing concepts. Do you expect sales and use of bicycles to accelerate in the coming years as more cities build infrastructure and further subsidize their use? Yes, but also electro-Bikes will increase like in Tübingen where a municipal programme offers attractive conditions for electro bikes. Important is the safety of bicycle lanes. They are attractive for those distances where public transportation does not offer good options. However, also “clean” cars will play a role as passenger transportation for small families and old people is very important. Here, the fuels will change and electro- cars will play also a role. Electro cars are interesting for cities as are silent and produce no particles. What’s the biggest barrier to increasing use of bicycles and public transportation in cities? Why don’t we see faster implementation? I think we are already quite far in Germany, but each city area starts with diverse conditions. I think that environmental governance plays an important role, the cooperation between local authorities, politicians, firms and interest groups helps to get faster solutions. The public awareness is as important as well as lifestyle. If in Frankfurt or London for example it becomes more “cool” to go by bike even by directors of a bank, all other will follow.