Environmental measures must not destroy the image of ecology in public opinion

Most of the Smart Cities incorporate an environmental component in their program: reduction of pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, waste treatment, etc. Depending on the country, they face a skepticism or an inertia that is more or less important and relies on a proactive citizen base that is rarely majority.

Their aim, in order to succeed in reducing their environmental impact, is to bring progressively citizens, inhabitants and users of cities, to change their behaviours and ways of life, to remove most of them from a certain indifference or passivity, to make ecology a shared objective.

Measures taken by some cities have the opposite effect; they crystallize the dissatisfaction of the inhabitants, cause violent rejections and discredit the ecology and protection of the environment, probably in a sustainable way.

These measures include:

– Purely ideological measures with consequences that are often harmful for some citizens: for example, the ban on leaving the shop windows illuminated after the shops are closed. This measure affects heavily commercial activities because many passers-by spotted future purchases when going out of the cinema or restaurant. Instead of extinguishing shop windows, the obligation to illuminate them with LEDs would have no effect on the level of commercial activity, would be an investment accessible to most shop-keepers and would lead to almost equivalent environmental gains.

– Discriminatory measures: for example, the ban on old cars, or so-called more polluting. So-called, because partly true. This measure prohibits, for example, a first-generation Renault Twingo emitting 143 g CO2 / km of being used but leaves on the roads the latest version of Renault Espace, Peugeot 5008, some present Mercedes or BMW models with equivalent or higher emissions. This prohibition penalizes drivers with limited means who, in the absence of back-up solutions, will take his car in all circumstances, and does not touch drivers who would have the means to afford an alternative means of transport.

– Measures of facade: I saw the mayor of a city come by bicycle to a commemorative ceremony and the sheaf he had to drop arrived just behind him in … a car. Such an example can, by its farcical aspect, only discredit the protection of the environment to citizens who do not yet have fully measured the ins and outs.

– The moralizing and guilty speeches

– Measures imposing constraints too strong in relation to habits. Progressive evolutions are more easily adopted. This is particularly true of waste sorting and collection.

A Smart City is not just about technology. To engage citizens and gain credibility, it must also be a story of Smart Decisions, Smart Behaviours and Smart Measures.

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