Planetizen - Urban Planning News, Jobs, and Education

A Detailed Map of the Nation's Auto Emissions

The New York Times illustrates the scope and scale of the great project still facing the United States: to decrease greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector of its economy.
October 11, 2019, 7am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
Share Tweet LinkedIn Email Comments
Jeff Turner (JefferyTurner)

"Transportation is the largest source of planet-warming greenhouse gases in the United States today and the bulk of those emissions come from driving in our cities and suburbs."

So reads the introduction to an interactive map published by The New York Times, claiming to be the most detailed map of auto emissions in the United States, using data from Boston University's Database of Road Transportation Emissions.

"Even as the United States has reduced carbon dioxide emissions from its electric grid, largely by switching from coal power to less-polluting natural gas, emissions from transportation have remained stubbornly high," write Nadja Popovich and Denise Lu in the article that runs alongside the interactive map.

"The bulk of those emissions, nearly 60 percent, come from the country’s 250 million passenger cars, S.U.V.s and pickup trucks, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Freight trucks contribute an additional 23 percent."

The article discusses the state of environmental regulation as the transition between the Obama and Trump administrations begins to have consequential outcomes for the nation's environmental policies. The article also teases out some of the geographic distinctions illustrated by the map:

Boston University’s emissions database, first published in 2015 and updated this week with an additional five years of data, reveals that much of the increase in driving-related CO2 has occurred in and around cities.

New York City and Los Angeles lead the country in terms of the total number of emissions—in line with those cities' positions as the two most populous in the country. Emissions in both cities, however, have grown significantly since 1990.

The map isn't the only interactive graphic included in the article, and Los Angeles and New York City are far from the only cities with growing emissions, measured both by total and per capita.

Full Story:
Published on Thursday, October 10, 2019 in The New York Times
Share Tweet LinkedIn Email