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Are compact cities environmentally friendly?

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Author Info

  • Carl Gaigné

    ()
    (INRA, UMR1302, 4 Allée Bobierre, F-35000 Rennes, France)

  • Stéphane Riou

    (UMR CNRS 5824 GATE Lyon-Saint-Etienne, Université de Saint-Etienne
    Department of Econometrics and Tinbergen Institute, Free University, The Netherlands)

  • Jacques-François Thisse

    ()
    (CORE, Université Catholique de Louvain (Belgium), Université du Luxembourg, and CEPR)

Abstract

There is a large consensus among international institutions and national governments to favor urban-containment policies - the compact city - as a way to reduce the ecological footprint of cities. This approach overlooks the following basic trade-off : the concentration of activities decreases the ecological footprint stemming from commodity shipping between cities, but it increases emissions of greenhouse gas by inducing longer worktrips. What matters for the ecological footprint of cities is the mix between urban density and the global pattern of activities. As expected, when both the intercity and intraurban distributions of activities are given, a higher urban density makes cities more environmentally friendly and raises global welfare. However, once we account for the fact that cities may be either monocentric or polycentric as well as for the relocation of activities between cities, the relationship between density and the ecological footprints appears to be much more involved. Indeed, because changes in urban density affect land rents and wages, firms are incited to relocate, thus leading to new commuting patterns. We show policies that favor the decentralization of jobs in big cities may reduce global pollution and improve global welfare.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Groupe d'Analyse et de Théorie Economique (GATE), Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS), Université Lyon 2, Ecole Normale Supérieure in its series Working Papers with number 1001.

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Length: 29 pages
Date of creation: 2010
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Handle: RePEc:gat:wpaper:1001

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Keywords: greenhouse gas; commuting costs; transport costs; cities; urban-containment policy;

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References

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Cited by:
  1. Carl Gaigné & Stéphane Riou & Jacques-François Thisse, 2010. "Are compact cities environmentally friendly?," Working Papers 1001, Groupe d'Analyse et de Théorie Economique (GATE), Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS), Université Lyon 2, Ecole Normale Supérieure.
  2. Martin F. Quaas & Sjak Smulders, 2012. "Brown Growth, Green Growth, and the Efficiency of Urbanization," CESifo Working Paper Series 4044, CESifo Group Munich.
  3. Rémy Le Boennec, 2014. "Nouvelles centralités, choix modal et politiques de déplacements " 2.0 " : Le cas Nantais," Working Papers hal-00958700, HAL.
  4. Carl Gaigné & Jacques-François Thisse, 2013. "New economic geography and the city," Working Papers 188884, Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, France.
  5. Carl Gaigné & Stéphane Riou & Jacques-François Thisse, 2012. "Are Compact Cities Environmentally (and Socially) Desirable ?," Cahiers de recherche CREATE 2012-4, CREATE.
  6. André De Palma & Alexandre Guimard, 2014. "Urbanism, an overview," Working Papers hal-00969574, HAL.
  7. Rainald Borck, 2014. "Will Skyscrapers Save the Planet? Building Height Limits and Urban Greenhouse Gas Emissions," CESifo Working Paper Series 4773, CESifo Group Munich.
  8. Jaume Masip Tresserra, 2013. "Sub-centres and Urban Inequality: A study on Social Equity in the Barcelona Metropolitan Region," ERSA conference papers ersa13p64, European Regional Science Association.
  9. WUNSCH, Guillaume & MOUCHART, Michel & RUSSO, Federica, 2012. "Functions and mechanisms in structural-modelling explanations," CORE Discussion Papers 2012056, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  10. Kristof Dascher, 2013. "Climate Change and Urban Contours: Why Countries with Denser City Centers Fight Climate Change Harder," ERSA conference papers ersa13p744, European Regional Science Association.
  11. de Cara, Stephane & Fournier, Anne & Gaigne, Carl, 2011. "Feeding the Cities and Greenhouse Gas Emissions - Beyond the Food Miles Approach," 2011 International Congress, August 30-September 2, 2011, Zurich, Switzerland 114350, European Association of Agricultural Economists.

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