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The marginal cost of carbon abatement from planting street trees in New York City


  • Kovacs, Kent F.
  • Haight, Robert G.
  • Jung, Suhyun
  • Locke, Dexter H.
  • O'Neil-Dunne, Jarlath


Urban trees can store carbon through the growth process and reduce fossil fuel use by lowering cooling and heating energy consumption of buildings through the process of transpiration, shading, and the blocking of wind. However, the planting and maintenance of urban trees come at a cost. We estimate the discounted cost of net carbon reductions associated with planting and caring for street trees in New York City (NYC) over 50- and 100-year horizons. Depending on the species planted, the cost of reducing carbon, averaged across planting locations, ranges from $3133 to $8888 per tonne carbon (tC), which is higher than current cost estimates of forest-based carbon sequestration. The London plane tree is the most cost-effective species because of its long life span and large canopy, and the marginal cost of carbon reduction for the species ranges from $1553 to $7396/tC across planting locations. The boroughs of Staten Island and Queens have planting locations with the lowest average costs of carbon reduction ($2657/tC and $2755/tC, respectively), resulting from greater reductions in energy consumption in nearby buildings, which have fewer stories and more residential use than buildings in the other boroughs.

Suggested Citation

  • Kovacs, Kent F. & Haight, Robert G. & Jung, Suhyun & Locke, Dexter H. & O'Neil-Dunne, Jarlath, 2013. "The marginal cost of carbon abatement from planting street trees in New York City," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(C), pages 1-10.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:95:y:2013:i:c:p:1-10
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2013.08.012

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. van Kooten, G. Cornelis & Eagle, Alison J. & Manley, James G. & Smolak, Tara M., 2004. "How Costly Are Carbon Offsets? A Meta-Analysis Of Carbon Forest Sinks," Working Papers 18166, University of Victoria, Resource Economics and Policy.
    2. Lubowski, Ruben N. & Plantinga, Andrew J. & Stavins, Robert N., 2006. "Land-use change and carbon sinks: Econometric estimation of the carbon sequestration supply function," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 135-152, March.
    3. Sander, Heather & Polasky, Stephen & Haight, Robert G., 2010. "The value of urban tree cover: A hedonic property price model in Ramsey and Dakota Counties, Minnesota, USA," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(8), pages 1646-1656, June.
    4. Hongli Feng & Catherine L. Kling, 2005. "Consequences of Co-benefits for the Efficient Design of Carbon Sequestration Programs, The," Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) Publications 05-wp390, Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) at Iowa State University.
    5. Andrew J. Plantinga & JunJie Wu, 2003. "Co-Benefits from Carbon Sequestration in Forests: Evaluating Reductions in Agricultural Externalities from an Afforestation Policy in Wisconsin," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 79(1), pages 74-85.
    6. Richard B. Howarth, 2009. "Discounting, Uncertainty, and Revealed Time Preference," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 85(1), pages 24-40.
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    Cited by:

    1. Dexter Locke & Kristen King & Erika Svendsen & Lindsay Campbell & Christopher Small & Nancy Sonti & Dana Fisher & Jacqueline Lu, 2014. "Urban environmental stewardship and changes in vegetative cover and building footprint in New York City neighborhoods (2000–2010)," Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences, Springer;Association of Environmental Studies and Sciences, vol. 4(3), pages 250-262, September.


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