Thursday, February 23, 2017

Estimating Greenhouse Gas Emissions for 100 Cities in the USA

Per capita anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissi...
Per capita anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions by country for the year 2000 including land-use change. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
An integrated approach for estimating greenhouse gas emissions from 100 U.S. metropolitan areas (12 page pdf, Samuel A Markolf, H Scott Matthews, InĂªs L Azevedo and Chris Hendrickson, Environmental Research Letters, Jan. 25, 2017)

Today we review an approach to estimate the emissions for a large number of cities in the USA which has advantages over the traditional bottom-up approach as well as likely being more accurate because it includes production as well as consumption of carbon emissions and fuels. Emissions from individual cities ranged from 5 metric tons per person in Tucson to 65 meteric tons per person in New Orleans. In gross terms, the average emission for the 100 cities examined was 27 million metric tons per year.

Key Quotes:

“over 80% of the United States’ population lives in metropolitan areas and roughly 75% of the earth’s natural resources are consumed in urban areas”

“bottom-up emission estimates for five sectors within a given city:
  1. use of electricity by the community,
  2. fuel use in residential, commercial, and industrial buildings (e.g.natural gas or fuel oil),
  3. fuel use for on-road passenger and freight motor vehicle travel,
  4. energy use in the treatment and distribution of potable water and waste water, and 5) emissions from the collection and degradation of solid waste generated by the community”
“the use of publically available national datasets to form metropolitan emission estimates significantly reduces the time, funding, and human capital that would otherwise be required for a traditional ‘bottom-up’ inventory”

“We find that total 2014 metropolitan CO2 emissions range from 4.1 million metric tons in Lancaster, Pennsylvania to nearly 170 million metric tons in the Houston, Texas; with an overall average of 27 million metric tons.”

Per capita emissions also show a wide variation: from 5 metric tons per person in the Tucson, Arizona to 65 metric tons per person in the Baton Rouge, Louisiana

“cities might consider conducting inventories about every 5 years and shift a greater portion of their time and energy toward mitigation efforts in the interim.”

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