Wednesday, April 11, 2007

How To Meet Kyoto? Live Like a New Yorker

A study released on Tuesday revealed that New York was responsible for a full 1% of the United States' greenhouse gases. Coming much later in the article is the key point - that at 8.7 million people the Big Apple accounts for almost 3% of the total US population, meaning that the footprint of your average New Yorker is about 1/3 that of your average American.

The lesson? If every American lived like a New Yorker the US wouldn't have to agree to the Kyoto Protocol - because they already would have reached its targets.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg had commissioned the study to evaluate the city's progress in reducing their greenhouse gas emissions 30% by 2030. Cheers to real leadership.


ravijo said...

Farmers feed cities. New York City is fed by farms in the midwest, California, Mexico, Argentina, China etc. Those farms both practice and virtue of being so far away from their consumers are taxing on the environment. NYC may have the perception of "living lightly", but in fact they are probably very damaging.

true liberal said...

While ravijo has a point, living in cities is much more efficient than in sprawling suburbs or rural areas.

Think of the different amount of energy used per capita for heating when comparing detached houses with connected apartments.

Or that public transit, walking, and biking are much more widely available when people live in close proximity to one another.

Encouraging urbanization is the tough part. Municipal government is one of the biggest problems in my opinion. Tight zoning laws, high taxes, free highways give no incentive for people to live in cities which become relatively more expensive to live in than the suburbs.

New policy suggestions: Low taxes, liberal zoning, not giving NIMBYs the political power to prevent the construction of high-rise buildings, pricing roads so as to end the public subsidy for car commuters (encouraging public transit, or living closer to work), etc.

Call it market environmentalism.