The world’s first zero-carbon city is a big failure

Masdar was supposed to be the world’s first zero-carbon city. Developers envisioned a modest-sized city of 50,000 residents and 40,000 commuters near Abu Dhabi. It would be powered by renewable energy, they said, with driverless electric vehicles, desalination and water recycling systems, buildings insulated with argon, and a 150-foot-tall wind tower that sucks cool air from above the sweltering city and pushes it through the streets below. Masdar would be a model for sustainability, and even in the United Arab Emirates — a place built on oil money — it would be entirely fossil fuel-free. Waste-free, too.

While some of those systems are in place, the city of Masdar itself, it seems, is dying. A decade after it was conceived, the global economic slowdown interfered with the developers’ ambitious vision, and Masdar is now more failed experiment than sustainable city....more