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Do Cities or Suburbs Emit More Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Emissions?

City vs. Country: Who's Polluting the Earth More?


I always thought cities won the CO2-reduction argument with their tiny apartments and efficient undergrounds. Turns out, I was right! Sort of.

In many countries, cities have much lower per person emission rates, compared to the national average.

The real culprit? Not the driving culture of rural areas, but the high-consumption lives wealthy countries lead. Wealth that (until last year?) started in low-CO2-emitting cities like New York, which only emits 7.1 tons of CO2 per person while the US average is 23.92.

But when you look to poorer countries, urban areas are the pollution centers. To see why, read more.

Cities like Beijing and Shanghai, which house the emission-emitting factory jobs wealthier countries shipped off, have higher CO2 emissions per capita than China's national average.

When you factor in poorer countries' lenient environmental regulations, cities seem to be the greater evil. While only half the world's population lives in cities, they consume 75 percent of global energy. UN-Habitat said cities emit 50-60 percent of greenhouse gases, but 80 percent when you factor indirect emissions from city dwellers.

Sounds like the problem is born in wealthy countries and bred in poor ones, no? Good thing China won't be "poor" much longer!

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