Rochester is a leader in the nation at reducing emissions and no one knows why

Local News

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Greenhouse gas emissions are the highest in the United States among the transportation sector when compared to other emitters.

That trend continues to go up, although one study showed that Rochester’s emissions from transportation has decreased.  

The data comes from Boston University’s Database of Road Transportation emissions. The New York Times put together a comprehensive map of these auto emissions. 

“It’s extremely puzzling,” said Arian Horbovetz, a writer that focuses on urban development and transportation. He says the big difference between Upstate New York city’s emissions trend is strange. 

“Not so much that Rochester has shown a decrease in per capita emissions, but the differences between our Buffalo and Syracuse neighbors for example,” said Horbovetz. 

Since 1990, Rochester’s travel emissions per person are down 7% while Buffalo is up 11%. Syracuse is up 19%. Herbovetz says it may be from city businesses following the urban sprawl. 

“Now I think you’re seeing these jobs are more in people’s backyards, in people’s communities or adjacent to them,” said Herbovetz. 

Others think that the increase in the popularity of electric vehicles has resulted in lower emissions. Craig O’Buckley just switched from a Mercedes to a Tesla and says he will never go back to an internal combustion engine. 

“More and more manufacturers are going electric,” said O’Buckley. “It’s definitely the way of the future.” 

According to other studies, the emergence of Uber and Lyft cannot explain the drop in emissions for Rochester and neither can population change, something comparable to other mid-size cities.  

Martin Schooping is a professor at RIT and suggests a few reasons. One of them may be better fuel efficiency with vehicles. Another reason could be reduced commute times in Rochester based on traffic. Less slowing because of traffic on roads mean less idling and less pollution. 

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