The European Green Deal (EGD) offers a glimpse into a greener future for our cities, and a role for them to contribute to a greener future for Europe and the world. But it is no longer enough to be green. It is no longer enough to aim at deals. A fundamental rewiring of the European city and the wider economy is needed. In order to attempt to counteract the climate tailspin the world is in, Europe has to move more boldly and quickly to a distributed and fully renewable energy system and restructure its agricultural and forestry practices, and its food, building, automotive and other manufacturing industries. The EGD falls short of this need.
The critical aim for the 2020s is to go far beyond the soft carbon neutrality aims of the 1990s and pursue a climate-positive regeneration of the European biospheric systems of which our cities are very much part. When tallying emissions balances in 2050 substantially more carbon should be found to be drawn from the atmosphere than injected into it. Fundamental drivers are, for example, the cessation of fossil fuel and cement emissions and the widespread ramping up of industry, agriculture, forestry and wetland capacities to absorb and retain atmospheric carbon.