Why Do US Citizens Have Double the Carbon Footprint of People in Europe?

While people in the US and Europe have similar lifestyles, those living in Europe produce half the carbon emissions as those in the US – why is that?

Flying over Sweden, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, and Wales, aerial photographer Alex MacLean shows us why in an article in Yale360.

It’s about how efficiently Europe designs its built environment, MacLean says. Dense urban centers encourage walking and bicycling, and connect easily with public transportation. Suburban and rural communities are compact with sharp boundaries on growth, and commercial and retail space is integrated into the fabric of residential areas, he points out.

In the US, the "smart growth" movement seeks to replicate Europe’s approach, and has been accepted as best practice by many municipal planning agencies. But with so much of the country built-out based on sprawl, it will be hard to match Europe’s efficiency.

Rysum, Germany has a sharp growth boundary:

Smart Growth Rysum Germany

Intersections in downtown Copenhagen are designed to separately accommodate public transit, bikes, and pedestrians:

Smart Growth Copenhagen

See Maclean’s other photos in Yale360:

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