Emerald Cities: Urban Sustainability and Economic Development.
EMERALD CITIES: URBAN
SUSTAINABILITY AND ECONOMIC
(New York: Oxford University Press,
2010), 256 pages.
Accessible to the layman and derigueur reading for the urban planner, Emerald Cities is a comprehensive tour of approaches to sustainable living in American and European cities. From Portland, Oregon to Stockholm, Sweden, lave and public policy professor Joan Fitzgerald issues blow after blow against the false dilemma between a clean environment and a strong economy. She argues compellingly that the twin goals of environmental and economic sustainability are, rather than mutually exclusive, indelibly interconnected and sometimes reinforcing.
Fitzgerald notes encouraging examples of cities adopting policies that promote renewable energy, constructing eco-efficient buildings, revitalizing brownfield sites, composting trash, investing in public transportation, creating more bike paths and walkways, preserving open spaces and a trove of other "smart growth" measures that create jobs and carry the pulse of the new urbanism she espouses. Though her prose exudes optimism, Fitzgerald's idealism is tempered by her recognition that efforts by individual actors and communities can only go so far. Those efforts must also be reinforced by industrial policy militating against the "ubiquity of market failures when it comes to the environment." Indeed, as Emerald Cities went to press, cities were devouring 75 percent of the world's energy and spewing 80 percent of its greenhouse gas emissions.
For this reason, Fitzgerald repudiates the "default premise ... that markets will sort things out." She implores governments at all levels to seek "social justice through planning" by fast-tracking research, stimulating demand for green technology and investing in the retooling of antiquated manufacturing processes. Subsidies, taxes and higher environmental and labor standards should all be employed to incentivize clean growth over dirty growth and good jobs over bad ones.
Alive with solutions worth emulating and industrial policies worth advocating, Emerald Cities is a road map to a smart, green, new urbanism. If our public officials fail to follow it, they can no longer say that it is for lack of feasibility.