Urban Emissions of Greenhouse Gases


Cities and greenhouse gas emissions: moving forward (22 page pdf, Environment and Urbanization, Jan. 10, 2011)

Also discussed here: New Study: Suburbs Can Pollute More than Cities (The Infrastructurist, Jan. 31, 2011)

The article under review today analysed urban and suburban emissions of greenhouse gases based on a detailed study of Canada’s largest city, Toronto. It concludes that emissions vary from person to person and from city to city but one striking observation is that densely populated urban areas emit less per capita than do suburbs – which in turn should focus urban planners seeking to reduce overall GHG emissions.

Key Quotes:

“contrary to popular wisdom, cities can have a per capita rate of greenhouse gas emissions that’s astonishingly lower than rates in their surrounding suburbs.”

“average per capita GHG emissions for cities vary from more than 15 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e) (Sydney, Calgary, Stuttgart and several major US cities) to less than half a tonne (various cities in Nepal, India and Bangladesh)”

Emission trends in cities:

  • ”Dense cities with good transportation systems often have low per capita emissions
  • Cities in cold climates tend to emit more per capita greenhouse gases than those in warmer regions
  • Cities in low- and middle-income countries have a lower per capita emissions rate than those in wealthy nations”

“Tokyo..has an impressively low per capita emissions rate of 4.89 — far lower than any U.S. city on this list — in part because of its local “emitting” fees”

Congestion pricing in Stockholm contributes to low emissions there, while efficient public transit keeps Zurich’s emissions low”

“GHG emissions can vary noticeably for the same resident of a city or country depending on whether these are production- or consumption-based values”

“A strong correlation between high rates of GHG emissions and solid waste generation is presented”

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