Brookings Institution released their report on Blueprint for American Prosperity [pdf]. (H/T EL) What I found intriguing, is high emitters found in cities east of Mississippi river and low emitters are cities west of the MS river. How interesting.
We know California is leading in everything: low carbon economy, renewable energy policies and building codes.
The three sources of carbon emissions are: residential and commercial buildings (39%), industry (28%) and transportation (33%). That means, if you cut down your travel and reduce electricity consumption, you also reduce carbon footprint. Simple solutions for reducing carbon emissions.
The more densely populated cities usually offer alternative method of transportation using buses, metrorails or taxis. It's no surprise, to learn that large metro areas had smaller carbon footprints per resident than average American cities. On metrorail ridership, NY, SF, and LA stands out because they have the highest annual ridership in the nation. Washington DC, Baltimore (pdf), and Atlanta also follow the same pattern but DC-Baltimore metro had larger than average carbon footprints. DC metro emits almost in the same ranking of with Tulsa, OK, Knoxville, TN. Even Baltimore-Towson area is 'cleaner' than urban DC! Guess, the higher carbon emissions come from the burbs.
The five major findings:
- Large metro areas offer greater energy and carbon efficiency than nonmetropolitan areas. (do they mean rural?). Average metro resident in 2005 had a smaller carbon footprint (2.24 metric tons) vs. average American (2.60 metric tons). The difference in footprint is because urban dwellers less travel and electricity use.
- Carbon emissions increased more slowly in metro areas than the rest of the country in 2000 and 2005.
- Per capita emissions vary substantially by metro area. Striking difference between metro cities that have good mass transit and not. For example, the average resident in Lexington, KY emitted 2.5x more carbon from transport and residences than residents in Honolulu. Looking from the economic output, or Gross Metropolitan Product (GMP), Youngstown in OH had a high of 97.6 metric tons of carbon per million dollars of GMP than San Jose in CA a low of 22.5 metric tons!
- Development pattern and rail transit play an important role in determining carbon emissions.
- Other factors are important, such as the fuel used to generate electricity, electricity prices and weather.
Five 'targeted' recommendations to have new economy-wide policies to motivate action targeting the three sectors (transportation, industry and buildings/ real estate).
- Promote transportation choices to expand transit and compact development options (smart growth).
- Introduce more energy-efficient freight operations with regional freight planning.
- Require home energy cost disclosure when selling and "on bill" financing to stimulate and scale up energy-efficient retrofitting of residential housing.
- Use Federal housing policy to create incentives for energy -and location-efficient decisions.
- Issue a metropolitan challenge to develop innovative solutions that integrate multiple policy areas.
Back to reality. The $4 per gallon gas (and up) is going to somehow create that 'urgency.' All we need now - is the political will from our legislators - and pressure from stakeholders (residents, businesses, etc.) to shrink carbon footprints to transform the fuel-intensive economy to a 'low-carbon' economy.