According to a popular and pernicious myth, you can’t fight poverty in the developing world without fossil fuel energy and the emissions that come with it. Yet while trumpeting this idea makes a good marketing strategy for the coal industry, more and more developing countries are proving you can in fact have environmentally responsible and low-carbon development. Most recently, the nation of Algeria announced plans to build a low-carbon city that could serve as a model for development efforts throughout the country.
Algeria will partner with the Global Environment Facility to build the city of Boughzoul, designed to accommodate about 400,000 people by 2025. Located two hundred kilometers south of the capital city of Algiers, Boughzoul’s construction and maintenance will incorporate energy and emissions saving measures like the use LED lights, solar water heating, solar photovoltaic cells for energy generation, and low-carbon construction practices. This will slash the city’s projected carbon footprint by 3.4 million tons of carbon dioxide pollution. It will also help Boughzoul become a center for energy innovation and research, attracting major players in the renewable energy industries. The Global Environment Facility will contribute $22 million to make the Boughzoul project a success.
In explaining why Boughzoul is important, Algerian officials cite the fact that more and more people around the world are choosing to live in cities. Algeria is confronting this challenge of urbanization head-on, acknowledging the imperative to build cities with the smallest energy and emissions footprints possible. The government hopes that if Boughzoul proves successful, other new cities in Algeria will follow a similar path to low-carbon development. Even more importantly, Boughzoul could serve as a model to countries throughout the developing world.
In an age when fossil fuels are growing increasingly expensive, climate change and the health impacts of pollution are not the only reasons low-carbon development makes sense. Many developing countries can ill afford to become dependent on oil and coal, when increased demand and a decreased supply of both fossil fuels promise to combine to dictate high prices in the future. Meanwhile countries like Algeria, which is located in the sunny Sahara Desert have abundant renewable energy resources are never likely to run out. Well designed cities like Boughzoul will reduce environmental impacts connected with carbon energy and emissions while also helping nations attain lasting energy security.
The Boughzoul project is not the first instance where developing countries have taken the lead on energy and emissions challenges—nor will it be the last. More and more nations are seeing the advantages of low-carbon development and a small carbon footprint, and are investing in renewable energy solutions. Boughzoul is just one more example of how development and concern for the planetary climate can easily go hand in hand.
Article by Nick Engelfried, appearing courtesy Justmeans.