West Coast metro areas boasted some of the lowest carbon emissions per capita in the country in 2005, according to a ranking of 100 urban areas by the Brookings Institution. Honolulu topped the list, followed by Los Angeles, the Portland-Vancouver area, and New York. Population density, mild climates, and aggressive energy-reduction policies got credit for the smaller footprints.
The study measured residential electricity and fuel use, along with the mileage traveled by cars and trucks, which contribute about half of overall carbon emissions. It left out industrial emissions and those from air, rail, or sea transportation. The authors recommend federal legislation setting a price on emissions, financial support for mass transit, and more financing for energy research and development, among other policies. (Read more carbon emissions stories.)