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Map-based carbon accounting system could help New York meet net-zero emissions goal


Researchers from SUNY-ESF and the Climate & Applied Forest Research Institute have built a new map-based carbon accounting system. It could help the State of New York reach its net-zero emissions by 2050 goal.

Technology like wind and solar energy can support up to 85% of emission reduction but the remaining 15% will need to be offset through carbon sequestration.

Colin Beier, an associate professor of ecology at SUNY-ESF who is leading the project, said to reach that 15% the state will need to double its carbon sink. The carbon map could be a useful tool to understand the changing forest landscapes.

"That gives us a sense of what opportunities are there to take steps, actions on the ground to manage those forest lands, not just for their climate benefits, but in ways that increase those climate benefits, but also in balance with the many other values that we have for forests," Beier said.

He said the tool is valuable because targeting the right actions in the right places could achieve the biggest impacts.

"Giving us an opportunity to adapt to changes as time goes on, because the future is very unpredictable and the world is a rapidly changing place," Beier said. "So it supports a broad range of applications and actions to be better stewards of our landscape and reduce the climate risk."

Beier said even if the state doesn't meet the net-zero goal by 2050, they'll have still made good progress.

"Maybe we get to 10% instead of 15%," Beier said. "Maybe new technology is going to come along that will knock out that other 5%? And so we can still get to net zero. We don't know what the future holds. But I think you aim high, you strive high and even if you fall short of that really high goal, you can still do all make a lot of good progress."

The New York State carbon monitoring system could be extendable to other regions as well.

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Ava Pukatch