Cities emit less than was thought

Cities are not as bad for the environment as is sometimes claimed, according to a new study.

While urban areas are often blamed for up to 80 per cent of carbon emissions, the report by the International Institute for Environment and Development claims that they emit just half that.

David Satterthwaite, a senior fellow at the institute, also claims that cities could be seen as part of the solution if the ideas of the past could be overcome.

"Blaming cities for greenhouse gas emissions misses the point that cities are a large part of the solution," he said. "Well planned, well governed cities can provide high living standards that do not require high consumption levels and high greenhouse gas emissions."

However, he also indicates that trying to pin emissions on places makes little sense, instead focusing on the emissions relating to each person's consumption.

Using this metric, the report notes that wealthy people outside cities are responsible for more emissions than those in cities. Bigger homes with higher energy consumption and a greater number of cars are to blame for this.

Everyone can take steps to reduce their energy use, with behavioural steps such as switching off appliances at the plug and using energy efficiency appliances complimented by investments such as installing insulation or microgeneration devices.

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