The Infrastructurist sums up a new study that compares pollution generated in cities versus that produced in the suburbs:
To illustrate this point, the authors of the new report examine per capita emissions rates in three locales in the greater Toronto region. The lowest per capita emissions rate (1.31 tons of carbon) belonged to the inner-city neighborhood of East York, home to dense apartments within walking distance of a commercial center and public transit. The highest rate (13.02) was found in Whitby — pictured at the top of this post — a sprawling suburb whose residents rely on automobiles to reach the shopping districts. Splitting the difference was Etobicoke (6.62), an area full of single-family homes but still accessible to the downtown core via public transportation.
The authors conclude:
The most important observation is that there is no single factor that can explain variations in per capita emissions across cities … .
An equally important observation, I might contend, is that the conversation about reducing emissions shouldn’t stop at the city limits.
It would be interesting to know what the authors then recommend.
But the larger issue still seems to be how to convince suburbanites that this pollution and emissions issue is a big enough one that they should change their behavior. Is some more pollution worth it to have the personal freedom and autonomy of living in a suburban, single-family home where you can drive in your car from place to place?