People living in cities have a lower carbon footprint than those in the suburbs and rural areas. Some people find this rather counter intuitive for reasons I don’t fully understand. There are researchers looking into the future of our global carbon footprint and they have concluded that if we increase the percentage of people in urban places instead of suburban/rural we can lower the rate of wasteful carbon increase.
By taking these key steps, particularly in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, the analysis concluded that the world’s cities could limit themselves to using 540 exajoules of energy in 2050 (it takes the U.S. about three weeks to produce enough crude oil to generate 1 EJ of energy). That’s a lot of energy—more than double cities’ 2005 energy demand of 240 EJ. But it’s a quarter less than the projected demand of 730 EJ under the business-as-usual scenario analyzed.
Given that most of the energy used by humanity today comes from fossil fuels, improving the energy efficiency of cities could deliver big climate benefits. Cities account for so much of the world’s energy use that a recent U.N climate report concluded they’re responsible for three quarters of yearly carbon dioxide pollution.