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DC Would Need to Plant 626K+ Trees Annually to Be Carbon Neutral

September 9, 2021 by Dan McCue
Trees on Capitol Hill. (Photo by Dan McCue)

WASHINGTON — The nation’s capital would need to plant 626,557 trees annually to be a carbon neutral city, a new study finds.

The analysis, by comparethemarket.com, pegs Washington, D.C.’s annual carbon emissions at 3,132,786 pounds. It then calculated the number of trees needed every year to counteract their carbon footprint.

The good news is despite being located in one of the most developed countries in the world, Washington, D.C. ranks 26 in the capital cities that require the most trees, behind the likes of London and Tokyo.

Each of the capital cities that would need to plant the most trees were found in Asia, with Beijing having the highest emissions, emitting 75 million tons annually. Over 15 million trees would need to be planted to offset this amount.

This was followed by two city-states, Singapore and Hong Kong, which would need to plant 9.4 million and 9 million trees respectively to reach carbon neutrality.

However, not all cities around the world have to embark on such a tree-planting spree. Reykjavík emits just under 350,000 tCO2 a year, which means that it would only need to plant around 70,000 trees to offset its footprint, which is admittedly still a lot of trees!

This was followed by New Zealand’s capital, Wellington, and Basel in Switzerland, which would need to plant 124,236 and 156,786 trees to offset their emissions respectively. 

“Becoming carbon neutral is an essential goal for countries around the world, and as pledges roll in to reach this target by 2050 and beyond, immediate action is needed,” an energy spokesperson at comparethemarket.com said in a written statement. “One way we have studied is to offset emissions by planting trees which are great for absorbing CO2, with added benefits of supporting the ecosystem and wildlife. “The number of trees required may seem very high in cities like Beijing which would need to plant over 15 million trees, but this is if we only used plant power alone,” the spokesperson continued. “There are many other initiatives and technologies in place, like the government incentives, which present lots of opportunities to offset carbon emissions on a small and large scale.” 

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