Imagining Geneva's carbon-neutrality in 2050

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Imagining Geneva's carbon-neutrality in 2050

Cities and their agglomerations are major emitters of greenhouse gases (GHG). Consequently, it is in cities that the effects of global warming are felt the most. In this context, new initiatives to reduce CO2 emissions are being implemented by both public and private entities in areas such as energy, mobility and food, to name a few. Despite the proliferation of solutions, the scale of the work required to achieve this goal remains elusive. It is therefore more than necessary to imagine what a world where humans emit virtually no GHGs will look like in the future.


In order to allow the State of Geneva to better understand and anticipate the necessary changes, the Sustainable Development Department has mandated the Interdisciplinary Center for Sustainability of the UNIL (CID) to carry out a prospective approach to carbon neutrality for the Canton.


From this first study, 4 scenarios in 2050 have been developed.
The "trend" and "ambitious" scenarios essentially sought to improve and optimize the existing situation and to transfer the Canton's activities to less carbon-intensive vectors. Although these two scenarios more or less reduce CO2 emissions, they do not allow the Canton of Geneva to reach neutrality within 30 years.

The "Radiation" and "Resilience" scenarios reverse the thinking. In these two scenarios, a carbon neutral budget (i.e.: 1 ton per inhabitant) is retained by the authorities. Social norms and consumption behaviors are completely modified. Carbon neutrality is achieved in 2050, but different strategies are mobilized to reach it. These scenarios are largely influenced by a global context that oscillates between strong international cooperation and inward-looking attitudes, which determines the actions of the Canton.

After consulting experts, the Canton is now turning to its citizens to imagine possible futures. A huge change in our lifestyles and an upheaval of values will have to take place in order to reach carbon neutrality. Thus, it is more than necessary to initiate collective reflections and to co-construct common strategies so that this challenge becomes a true project of society.


Aware of this, the Canton of Geneva invites its citizens to explore these 4 scenarios, to create and share their vision of a carbon neutral future in 2050 during the 2021 edition of the Climathon of Geneva. The results of the consultation conducted with the population in 2019 on the future of the canton will also enrich the discussion.

Description of the challenge
Inspired by the 4 scenarios, the participants of the challenge will be able to choose the scenario that corresponds to them the most and explore the recurring elements associated with this scenario (e.g. strong increase in temperatures, hot summers, water shortages, decrease in the level of Lake Geneva, increase in the production or use of renewable energies, reduced carbon budget per year and per person, etc).


Using the methodology of design fiction, participants will imagine stories that present the lifestyle of a Geneva family and possible solutions to live with a carbon budget of 1 ton per year per person: What will be the implications of environmental issues on their daily lives? What will be the societal culture in which they live? What will be the social interactions? What will this family eat in 2050? What goods will they consume? How will they get their food and energy? How will they light, heat, or travel?


Imagining these future perspectives and writing a fiction will not only allow participants to share their aspirations, but also to mobilize them to make them happen. Today, more than ever, we must give more space to reflection and the creation of imaginary worlds.
Thus, on October 22 and 23, 2021, the participants of the Geneva Climathon will work for 24 hours on the imaginary future and the ecological transition, in the form of stories. In a collaborative way, participants will envision futuristic universes, characters and elements that trigger change. The goal is to imagine the different aspects of a future family's life: what problems will they face? More generally, it asks the participants to think about the positive or negative evolution of the climate situation and the evolution of specific aspects of city life resulting from this evolution.

To guide them through this unique exercise, they will be accompanied by coaches, experts, writing workshop leaders and illustrators. They will be helped and supported to "think differently" and thus imagine the necessary changes, commitments and involvement of citizens to achieve a carbon neutral lifestyle in Switzerland by 2050.

Expected results (from the participants) :
In groups of 4-6 people, and starting from the life of a family living in Geneva in 2050, the participants will give a certain vision of the canton and the need for changes in certain areas such as mobility, food, energy, urbanism or education to face the climate emergency.


The participants will try to imagine the canton in 2050 in a positive way: through a sample of the future (story, video, podcast, newspaper headlines...), they will talk about what will have changed, the evolution of society and the commitment and involvement of the citizens to get there. Beyond their creativity, the participants commit to respecting certain principles:

  • The story must be benevolent and positive;
  • The proposed stories must be realistic. However, participants can be inspired by existing social and technological trends. (For example: we can't say that telekinesis will allow carbon neutral mobility in the future. Hydrogen cars are indeed a more plausible solution);
  • Technology can be part of the solution, part of the vision, part of the narrative, but it cannot solve all future issues on its own;
  • In the narrative, participants need to address the role of the state and the canton in the lives of residents, and their engagement, taking into account a global context that oscillates between cooperation and withdrawal;
  • The participants must take into account the fact that we only have one planet with limited resources.

In front of the jury of the Climathon Geneva, the participants will present the result of their reflection in the desired form, such as

  • News
  • Narrative, story
  • Drawings/illustrations
  • Videos
  • Reworked photos
  • Soundscape
  • Lifestyle concepts
  • Food, mobility and consumption offers
  • Newspaper headlines or front page of a newspaper
  • Poems
  • Radio spot
  • News of the day
  • Avenues to explore and tips

During the Climathon, you will be guided by our team to help you understand the challenge, but also to stimulate your creativity. In the meantime, we offer you some ideas to help you create a quality fictional story:

*These leads are resources to inspire you. In no way are you obligated to use them or limit yourself to them.

Sources of inspiration
Exploratory study "carbon neutrality" in Geneva in 2050: https://www.ge.ch/document/22877/annexe/0
Cantonal climate plan of Geneva, part 1 (2015) and part 2 (2017): https://planclimat.ge.ch
Cantonal climate plan 2030 - 2nd generation (publication spring 2021): https://www.ge.ch/document/programme-atelier-plan-climat-cantonal-2030-2e-generation
Cantonal concept of sustainable development 2030: https://www.ge.ch/document/concept-cantonal-du-developpement-durable-2030
Situation and environmental analysis - Switzerland 2030: https://www.bk.admin.ch/bk/de/home/dokumentation/fuehrungsunterstuetzung/lage-und-umfeldanalyse.html
GE2050: results of the consultation:
https://www.ge.ch/dossier/geneve-2050

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