Thursday, June 12, 2008
So, it’s finally time for land use policies to take account of global climate change and carbon footprints, right? Sure. But what types of consumer activities contribute most to the dilemma of too much carbon in the atmosphere? Often, policy discussions quickly focus on automobile emissions, with the subsequent policy prescription to favor public transportation and shorten commutes. Okay, again. But a recent study by the Brookings Institution (no corporate lackey) suggests that residential density and electricity generation are perhaps the most important factors in a metro area’s carbon footprint. Of 100 metro areas that Brookings studied, Los Angeles (yes, that great mecca of the auto lifestyle) came out as the second most carbon stingy area, just behind Honolulu. Residents of both these cities save carbon because of their pleasant climates, and Angelenos (defined helpfully to include only L.A. and Orange counties) use relatively less carbon because they live fairly densely and in fairly modest-sized houses.
Which factors contribute most significantly to a big carbon footprint per capita? Bad weather, a smaller metro area (which tends to be less dense), and, perhaps most significantly of all, whether the local electricity comes from coal. Nearly all the biggest carbon users per capita were in the Mississippi and Ohio River basins (Lexington, Ky., Indianapolis, and Cincinnati were the worst). Western cities use far less carbon for residential use. Here’s Brookings’s policy brief, and here’s the list of the metro areas, along with maps.
So, yes, let’s work on improving and encouraging public transportation. But if we’re really concerned about carbon, let’s worry just as much about density and electricity, even if it doesn’t meet our preconceptions of the wasteful American lifestyle …
[Because comments must be approved, they take some time to appear online.]
This blog is an Amazon affiliate. Help support Land Use Prof Blog by making purchases through Amazon links on this site at no cost to you.
- Stephen Miller on New Arkansas law requires local governments to pay for a "takings" where certain "regulatory programs" reduce FMV by at least 20 percent
- Josh Galperin on New Arkansas law requires local governments to pay for a "takings" where certain "regulatory programs" reduce FMV by at least 20 percent
- Jesse Richardson on New Arkansas law requires local governments to pay for a "takings" where certain "regulatory programs" reduce FMV by at least 20 percent
- Jamie Baker Roskie on Uber Goes to the State House Seeking Preemption of Local Government Control
- Stephen R. Miller on Why are building inspectors so often on the take?
- Land Use, Telescopes and Sacred Land in Paradise
- Tekle on Percent-for-Art Ordinances
- Michael Gerrard on Climate Change and Land Use Law
- Touro Law hosts First Annual Conference of the Land Use & Sustainable Development Law Institute
- Abstracts for 6th Annual Colloquium on Environmental Scholarship due May 1