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Research Seminars & Workshops @ IRES

Professor Jacques-Francois Thisse
Professor Emeritus, Universite Catholique de Louvain

Are compact cities environmentally friendly?


25 January 2012 (Wednesday)


4.00pm - 5.30pm


RMI Executive Seminar Room
21 Heng Mui Keng Terrace, Level 4


There is a consensus among international institutions and national governments in favor of city compactness as a way to improve the ecological performance of the urban system. This approach overlooks a fundamental fact: what matters for the carbon footprint of cities is the mix of the level of urban population density and the global pattern of activities. When both the intercity and intra-urban distributions of activities are given, a higher population density makes cities more environmentally friendly. However, once we account for the possible relocation of activities within and between cities, the relationship between population density and the ecological performance of cities appears to be more ambiguous. Because changes in population density affect land rents and wages, firms and workers choose new locations. We show that the resulting commuting and shipping pattern may generate more carbon dioxide emissions and a lower welfare level than the initial pattern. We also argue that policies favoring the decentralization of jobs may have an environmentally desirable impact.

Keywords: greenhouse gas, commuting costs, transport costs, cities; urbancontainment policy

For full paper, download here/images/icon/pdf-icon.gif

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