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The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Local-Scale Carbon Budgets and Mitigation Opportunities for the Northeastern United States

Authors:

Steve Raciti

Timothy Fahey

Quinn Thomas

Peter Woodbury

Charles Driscoll

Frederick Carranti

David Foster

Philip Gwyther

Brian Hall

Steven Hamburg

Jennifer Jenkins

Christopher Neill

Brandon Peery

Erin Quigley

Ruth Sherman

Matt Vadeboncoeur

David Weinstein

Geoff Wilson

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Year of Publication:
2012
Secondary Title:
BioScience
ISSN:
15253244
DOI:
10.1525/bio.2012.62.1.7
Pages:
23-38
Volume:
62
Year:
2012
Date:
01/2012

Abstract

Economic and political realities present challenges for implementing an aggressive climate change abatement program in the United States. A high-efficiency approach will be essential. In this synthesis, we compare carbon budgets and evaluate the carbon-mitigation potential for nine counties in the northeastern United States that represent a range of biophysical, demographic, and socioeconomic conditions. Most counties are net sources of carbon dioxide (CO2) to the atmosphere, with the exception of rural forested counties, in which sequestration in vegetation and soils exceed emissions. Protecting forests will ensure that the region's largest CO2 sink does not become a source of emissions. For rural counties, afforestation, sustainable fuelwood harvest for bioenergy, and utility-scale wind power could provide the largest and most cost-effective mitigation opportunities among those evaluated. For urban and suburban counties, energy-efficiency measures and energy-saving technologies would be most cost effective. Through the implementation of locally tailored management and technology options, large reductions in CO2 emissions could be achieved at relatively low costs.