How Can Cities Create a Green Economy?


The “Green Cities: How Urban Sustainability Can and Must Drive America’s Climate Change Policies” report, released yesterday by Living Cities, explores the ways in which big cities can combat climate change, create better jobs, and further economic recovery efforts–all at the same time.  The report surveyed 40 of the largest cities in the U.S.–including New York City, Los Angeles, Nashville, Denver, and Atlanta–to find out what they have accomplished and where they still have work to do.

According to Living Cities CEO Ben Hecht, the green economy will only succeed if cities work to provide opportunities to low-income people and communities. That means lowering energy and transportation costs, creating new public transportation systems, and bringing in new jobs.

Most cities in the Green Cities survey are beginning to address climate change, but very few are prioritizing the needs of low-income citizens. The report notes that this is a big step in going green, as construction and retrofit jobs are becoming increasingly important in making buildings more energy efficient. At the same time, bringing in more public transportation could lower citygoers’ carbon footprint and cut gasoline spending. This is easier said than done for many cities; San Francisco, for example, is having trouble building out its underground transportation system because of the extra cost of earthquake protection measures.

Cities are already taking big steps to prepare for a low-carbon future. One in three cities surveyed have partnered with area colleges to create green job programs, and one in six have programs that put trainees in green jobs. It’s a good start, but perhaps one day green jobs will be common enough that college training programs will be standard.

[Via Living Cities]

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