10 December 2007

If They Can Make It There--Be As Green As NYC

Is New York City really the greenest in the land?

A few years ago David Owen wrote a piece for The New Yorker asserting, "By the most significant measures, New York is the greenest community in the United States, and one of the greenest cities in the world." (PDF version here--worth a read.) [Update: Owen has expanded his article into a book, Green Metropolis.]

Earlier this year NYC completed its first greenhouse gas emissions inventory (PDF report here). It showed that in 2005 the city emitted 58.3 million metric tonnes of greenhouse gases on a CO2 equivalent basis. That's 7.1 tonnes CO2e for every man, woman and child in the city. The average for the whole country is 24.5 tonnes per person.

If the rest of the residents of the U.S. could cut their greenhouse gas output to the level achieved by New Yorkers, that would be a two-thirds reduction in national emissions. Admittedly that isn't 80% below 1990 levels, but it shows what is possible. And New Yorkers don't use any special technology. They just don't drive as much (good public transit) and they live in more densely packed housing, close to where they work.

graph of per capita emissions various citiesPer capita CO2e emissions of select cities and the United States.
From NYC inventory report (pdf)

How is your city doing? Read about the Cities for Climate Protection™ (CCP) Campaign.

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