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City better than country for carbon footprints

field GETTY.JPGcitylights GETTY.JPGCity folk have better carbon footprints than their country cousins, according to a new report.

Produced by the Brookings Institution, the report is all over the US press although it doesn’t yet appear to be online. Researchers looked at electricity, heating and transportation in the 100 largest metropolitan areas in 2005, according to AP. They then compared this data to the US national average.

While urbanites put out 2.47 tons of carbon dioxide on average, the overall US figure was 2.87 tons, a clear 0.4 ton victory for the concrete junglists. The worst area looked at was Lexington-Fayette, at 3.4 tons, while the best was Honolulu at 1.3 (Gannett News Service).

There are a few other surprises out there.

For example, LA was just behind Honolulu.

“There is a residue of misinformation in the public’s thinking of Los Angeles as a sprawling, congested city with long commutes,” study author Marilyn Brown of the Georgia Institute of Technology told Gannett. “The urban core is quite dense, and commute lengths are quite small within much of the Los Angeles area.”

Nancy Sutley, LA’s deputy mayor for energy and environment says in the LA Times, “We are not at all surprised. [The city has] moderate climate, with fewer heating and air-conditioning days, and its relatively newer, less drafty housing stock [than other US cities].”

But the paper notes the Brookings calculations use a state wide average, lumping LA in with the rest of California and ignoring the fact that half the city’s electricity comes from coal power plants.

The West Coast generally did better, says the NY Times, due to “mild climates, hydropower and aggressive energy-reduction policies”.

Local papers are lapping it up:

Carbon footprint: Seattle is 6th-best in U.S. – Hydropower gives us an edge in disputed study, says the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Tucson 17th-lowest in carbon emissions, boasts the Arizona Star.

SLC area’s carbon track harder to spot – Metro area, including Ogden, ranks 51st out of 100 cities in CO2 emissions, hedges the Salt Lake [City] Tribune.

Denver 42nd in per-capita carbon output – ‘Sprawling, auto-driven’, laments the Denver Post.

Syracuse’s (big) carbon footprint, warns the Post-Standard.

Pardon me, but our carbon footprint is showing, says the Baltimore Sun.

Rochester ranks 14th best in national study of cities’ carbon emissions, says the Democrat and Chronicle.

Images: Getty


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