Today’s low-carbon cities

What does it take to produce a low-carbon city? First, it should be compact. The average resident of Barcelona emits about a tonne a year of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e), while a New Yorker emits about one and a half and someone from Denver emits well over six. Torontonians emit about 4 tonnes of CO2e per year, from ground transport. This suggests that high-density urban planning might be a realistic component in climate change mitigation plans.

Secondly, it helps to be located in a temperate climate and to rely on low-carbon forms of electricity, such as hydro and nuclear. The worst thing to be is spread out, located in a very cold or very hot climate, and powered by coal. Phasing out coal globally should probably be our #1 climate priority.

Of course, tomorrow’s low-carbon cities will need to do dramatically better. Those annual ground transportation emissions are higher than the acceptable level for total emissions per capita by 2050.

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

2 thoughts on “Today’s low-carbon cities”

  1. It is not surprising that of the four North American cities studied, three are the highest carbon emission cities studied. New York City is the exception. Perhaps another example of how extraordinary New York City is as a model for North America.

  2. For a photographic essay on how New York City has made bicycle usage, especially in lower Manhattan , more feasible, you may want to check out the latest issue of Gordon Price’s (Issue 108)

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