According to a report published by the International Institute for Environment and Development, urban residents generate substantially lower greenhouse gas emissions than their suburban counterparts. Despite the myth that cities contribute the most to climate change, their per capita emissions are actually a fraction of the national average.
The report shows that greenhouse gas emissions for New Yorkers are less than a third of those of the national average for the U.S. And those of Barcelona residents are half the average of Spain.
A large reason for the smaller emissions per capita is that cities are often denser, with smaller dwelling sizes and a higher reliance on public transportation.
The report analyzed the emissions emitted directly by a city and did not include those generated by the production of goods consumed by its residents.
According to David Dodman of the International Institute for Environment and Development: "Many cities have surprisingly low per capita emissions but what is clear is that most emissions come from the world’s wealthier nations."
“The real climate-change culprits are not the cities themselves but the high consumption lifestyles of people living across these wealthy countries."
The aim of the report is to get policymakers to stop blaming cities for climate change and to see well-planned and effectively governed cities as tools to combine high living standards with lower emissions.