The Yardstick

Global Fridays: Are countries “cheating” to reduce emissions? What role does urban planning play in race relations?

April 20, 2012 | Tags: bike sharing, china, climate change, energy, environment, europe, france, global, Global Fridays, international, smart growth, sustainability, transit, UK, urban planning

Happy Friday! To get your weekend off to a great start, here are a few international news clips related to climate change, bike sharing, energy efficiency, and a reminder on the role of land use plays in how people interact with one another:

“Very few countries have cut their carbon emissions without cheating” asserts an article by The Washington Post’s Brad Plumer. In this piece Plumer explains that several wealthy countries which have reduced their emissions have done so by “exporting” or “outsourcing” their emissions to developing nations, such as China. Some OECD members, like Sweden and France, have managed to significantly reduce their emissions by actually using cleaner energy sources, mainly nuclear.

A related piece in The Guardian focuses specifically on Britain and China and is based on arguments from British Members of Parliament (MPs) that the UK is merely outsourcing its carbon emissions and that the fall in the country’s greenhouses gases is more than made up for by carbon-intensive Chinese production of goods for UK consumers.

As bike sharing systems continue to pop up in cities around the world, Carnegie Europe’s Director of Cities and Transportation at its Energy and Climate Program provides an update on London’s bike share program and provides some lessons that other cities contemplating how to introduce systems of their own.

Earlier this month, we highlighted some ideas that officials from Denmark and Germany offered their counterparts in metro DC related to energy efficiency and sustainability. An article in the European think-tank Centre for European Reform also discusses Denmark’s leadership in the area of energy efficiency and how the country may be able to capitalize on their foresight by exporting technology and knowhow to the rest of Europe.

Lastly, in a piece prompted by the tragic killings in Toulouse, France a few weeks ago, Jonathan Laurence of Brookings’ Center on the United States and Europe noted that, among many other things, bad urban planning throughout parts of the country is to blame for continued racial tensions. Laurence points to Marseille as an outlier because geographical constraints have kept sprawl in check and the resulting urbanism has required interaction rather than isolation between different groups. “Living in the city, not the suburban banlieues, naturally enhances integration.”