I came back from five months of research and study leave in November 2014, having spent the majority of the time in Vienna, Austria (a city of 1.8million with a much smaller footprint than Auckland). Austria is a long time member of the EU and has a climate with more extremes than New Zealand. Vienna is also a very old city, with small sections of pavement from the 1500s still in place. The housing is certainly not the “quarter acre dream”. It is different, not worse or better. Well, it is better for the environment and public transport — higher density housing makes public transportation efficient.

The conversations around transportation and household energy use are everyday. Mainstream newspapers (there are more than six in Vienna alone) frequently devote sections (not advertorials) to discussions of home energy efficiency, new transportation technology, modal shift, etc.

It is entirely normal for Austri