NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

The Greenness of Cities: Carbon Dioxide Emissions and Urban Development

Edward L. Glaeser, Matthew E. Kahn

NBER Working Paper No. 14238
Issued in August 2008
NBER Program(s):   EEE

Carbon dioxide emissions may create significant social harm because of global warming, yet American urban development tends to be in low density areas with very hot summers. In this paper, we attempt to quantify the carbon dioxide emissions associated with new construction in different locations across the country. We look at emissions from driving, public transit, home heating, and household electricity usage. We find that the lowest emissions areas are generally in California and that the highest emissions areas are in Texas and Oklahoma. There is a strong negative association between emissions and land use regulations. By restricting new development, the cleanest areas of the country would seem to be pushing new development towards places with higher emissions. Cities generally have significantly lower emissions than suburban areas, and the city-suburb gap is particularly large in older areas, like New York.

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Published: Glaeser, Edward L. & Kahn, Matthew E., 2010. "The greenness of cities: Carbon dioxide emissions and urban development," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(3), pages 404-418, May.

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