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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,


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!


Join The Conversation
Grandpa Grandpa 8 years
There are none so blind as those that will not see.
UnDave35 UnDave35 8 years
Come on G-pa. If we do it that way, then we can't blame ourselves for this mess. You know how we love to blame ourselves for everything.
stephley stephley 8 years
Grandpa Grandpa 8 years
How about calculating the amount of manufactured goods, and food each country produces, and divide that into pollution, and see what you come up with. I think you would find the U.S. at the bottom of the polluters.
esk4 esk4 8 years
I love that all we hear about is CO2 emmisions when there are other worse "green-house gasses" being emmitted...
ladyr ladyr 8 years
Also, in developing countries, most people in rural areas can't afford to own a car, and many don't even have electricity, so that would certainly throw off the numbers too.
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