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The last car in NYC

The IPCC 2023 report has once again shown that strict climate action is needed to reach the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. To explore possible futures where humankind has taken maximum climate action, we staged the tenth anniversary of the last car in New York with a plaque in Times Square. To situate ourselves in this world in the first place, we wrote the following scenario to create the world around it.

In 2040, New York City transforms with a skyline adorned by solar panels and wind turbines, achieving net carbon emissions targets. The city embraces electric transportation, with electric buses, trains, and autonomous vehicles dominating the streets. Bike lanes comprise half of the road space, while heavy taxes on personal cars encourage a ridesharing culture. Strict regulations on carbon emissions for buildings, along with incentives and subsidies, drive the adoption of clean technologies such as rooftop solar panels. Adaptive reuse projects and multi-use rentals replace new construction, reducing carbon footprints. Increased investment in carbon capture and storage creates green spaces and thriving waterways. Each borough dedicates 5% of its area to green spaces, while innovative projects extend Manhattan and promote sustainability across different districts. The city prioritizes social equality by providing renewable energy, green jobs, and green spaces to limate refugees. The shift from GDP to net carbon emissions as a benchmark influences policy, backed by media organizations and citizens' green scores. Tax returns are replaced by reporting net carbon emissions, leading to significant changes in taxation rates. New York City's success inspires global collaboration and sets an example for a greener and more sustainable future.

To make this experience seem as real as possible, we built a plaque on a concrete base and placed it around times square. Dressed as tourists, we captured interesting interactions from a father trying to explain the plaque to his children to people placing their water bottles on it.

In the second stage, we changed our role and interacted with bystanders to start conversations about transportation in NYC. Besides a lot of curios and also confused faces, we were able to gain a deeper understanding of personal relationships towards transportation regarding climate action.