More than half of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions come from moving people and goods and housing those people (see slide 10). Harvard Professor Edward Glaeser, in a recent Atlantic magazine article (as well as here and here), makes the case that living in smaller homes and driving less significantly reduces one’s carbon emissions. Therefore, two ways to better protect the planet are by increasing the efficiency of where we live and how we move, i.e. live in a city with public transit.
Unfortunately, sufficient housing opportunities and transportation choices are currently lacking from many of our great urban areas to achieve these efficiencies. Luckily, there are numerous places to look to and learn from as we make our urban areas more desirable and livable. Many European countries have made different choices about about how to set up their transportation systems and that is one of the reasons why their per capita CO2 emissions in the transportation sector are much lower than in the US. Thus, the environmental challenge for our cities is how to provide more small homes and more opportunities for walking while also making them more livable with good schools, parks, healthy food, safe streets and economic opportunity.