Are cities or towns greener?

An area’s carbon footprint is more likely to be influenced by average income, education level, and household size than whether it’s a town or city, according to an analysis in Environmental Research Letters.

The researchers calculated per-capita carbon footprints for 434 municipalities in the UK, accounting for all carbon dioxide emissions linked to goods and services consumed by residents. Urban and rural areas had similar average footprints, ranging from roughly 10 to 15 tonnes of CO2. While London’s emissions were the highest overall, some parts of the city had among the country’s lowest footprints. “We find evidence for ‘high carbon lifestyles’ relative to the UK average in both rural and urban areas,” the team writes.

Instead, carbon emissions were determined mainly by socio-economic factors. Areas with higher average income and education levels had bigger carbon footprints, while those with larger average households had smaller footprints. Roberta Kwok | 12 September 2013

Source: Minx, J. et al. 2013. Carbon footprints of cities and other human settlements in the UK. Environmental Research Letters doi: 10.1088/1748-9326/8/3/035039.

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