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Suburban sprawl cancels carbon footprint savings of dense urban cores
Date:1/6/2014

According to a new study by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, population-dense cities contribute less greenhouse gas emissions per person than other areas of the country, but these cities' extensive suburbs essentially wipe out the climate benefits.

Dominated by emissions from cars, trucks and other forms of transportation, suburbs account for about 50 percent of all household emissions largely carbon dioxide in United States.

The study, which has been accepted for publication in the journal Environmental Science & Technology (ES&T), uses local census, weather and other data 37 variables in total to approximate greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the energy, transportation, food, goods and services consumed by U.S. households, so-called household carbon footprints.

Interactive carbon footprint maps for more than 31,000 U.S. zip codes in all 50 states are available online at http://coolclimate.berkeley.edu/maps.

"The goal of the project is to help cities better understand the primary drivers of household carbon footprints in each location," said Daniel Kammen, Class of 1935 Distinguished Professor of Energy in the Energy and Resources Group and the Goldman School of Public Policy, and director of the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory. "We hope cities will use this information to begin to create highly tailored, community-scale climate action plans."

A key finding of the UC Berkeley study is that suburbs account for half of all household greenhouse gas emissions, even though they account for less than half the population. The average carbon footprint of households living in the center of large, population-dense urban cities is about 50 percent below average, while households in distant suburbs are up to twice the average: a factor of four difference between lowest and highest locations.

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Contact: Robert Sanders
rlsanders@berkeley.edu
510-643-6998
University of California - Berkeley
Source:Eurekalert  

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