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