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Sustainable cities key to US green economy

by David Masters
May 14, 2009

Sustainable cities are vital for America’s long term future as a green economy, according to a report by US thinktank Living Cities.

The “Green Cities: How Urban Sustainability Can and Must Drive America’s Climate Change Policies” report, released last week, explains how big cities can simultaneously help to fight climate change, create better jobs, and join the effort for economic recovery.

Forty of American’s largest cities, including New York City, Los Angeles, Nashville, Denver, and Atlanta, were surveyed for the report.

Most US cities are beginning to address climate change, the report said, but only a few are giving priority to the needs of low-income residents.

Four in five cities were found to put sustainability as one of their top five priorities, whilst three quarters have or are putting together detailed plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

One in three cities has partnered with a local university to create a green jobs program, whilst one in six have programmes to put trainees in green jobs.

Nearly all cities said they are investing in public transport improvements and are aiming to attract more green-collar industries.

However, Living Cities CEO Ben Hecht warned that the green economy will only succeed if cities provide sufficient opportunities for low-income people and communities.

“The emerging green economy can and must deliver opportunities to low-income people,” Hecht said.

These can be created by reducing energy and transport costs, building better public transport systems, and bringing in new jobs.

Hecht added that Living Cities is working with city governments, nonprofits and businesses who share its vision for a sustainable urban future.

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