CANCUN, MEXICO // The developers of a new low-carbon city in Algeria will be looking to Abu Dhabi's Masdar project for inspiration.
The city of Boughezoul will be built from scratch about 200 kilometres south of the Algerian capital, Algiers, at a fraction of Abu Dhabi's US$22 billion (Dh81bn) budget.
Its goal is also less ambitious than Masdar, which aims to be completely carbon-neutral.
But the team behind it still had a lot to learn from Masdar, said Bernard Jamet, the head of the technology transfer unit at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
Speaking on the sidelines of the climate change summit, Mr Jamet acknowledged that his team had yet to contact the Abu Dhabi developer but added: "We will be looking at Masdar and low-carbon developments in China."
UNEP is working with the Algerian government to implement the project, which will eventually house 400,000 people. Phase one, expected for completion in four years, would house 80,000 people.
The Algerian government is contributing $22 million for the project, in addition to $8.2 million from the Global Environment Facility, an independent organisation that has already allocated $9.2bn in funding for clean technologies in developing countries.
While detailed plans for the development are still being worked out, the city will rely on solar energy and solar hot water generation, as well as zero-carbon architecture. All street lights will feature light-emitting diodes (LEDs), the most efficient lighting technology on the market.
Dr Robert Dixon, the leader of Global Environment Facility's climate and chemicals team, said the project aimed to accelerate the adoption of clean technologies in Algeria and the rest of the region. But if greenhouse gas emissions were to be reduced rapidly, such projects had to be scaled up considerably, he said.
"The challenge here is to move from 100, 200 or 300 demonstration projects to thousands, and hundreds of thousands," he said.
Governments, Dr Dixon said, could not bear the financial brunt of all that needed to be done and should offset the costs by seeking partnerships with the private sector. "The technology and the real money is in the private sector. One of the key things is public-private partnerships. Working in teams to get things done."
Attaching a price to carbon emissions would also help by providing financial incentives to innovate. This, Dr Dixon said, could be achieved in various ways. In the US, a carbon tax would not be acceptable, he said, but it might be more so in Europe, where people were more used to taxation.