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Trees to the rescue, study on how cities can offset carbon footprint

As the world becomes more aware of the impact of carbon footprint and how it impacts the world, governments around the world are trying to reduce their own emissions by pursuing various avenues.

One viable solution for some has been by planting trees, as trees naturally absorb harmful carbon dioxide and it is estimated that for every five trees planted, one ton of carbon dioxide is absorbed. 
 
Bearing this number in mind, how many trees would major cities around the world need to plant each year to offset their carbon footprint?

New research from comparethemarket.com has revealed the number of trees capital cities around the world need to plant to offset their carbon footprint, based on their annual amount of carbon emissions.


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Which of the world’s capitals need to plant the most trees each year to offset its carbon footprint?

RankCityCountryAnnual emissions: (tCO2 or tCO2-eq)Annual trees needed to offset carbon footprint
1BeijingChina75,104,87915,020,976
2SingaporeSingapore46,831,6809,366,336
3Hong KongHong Kong44,876,4608,975,292
4IstanbulTurkey37,199,1377,439,827
5LagosNigeria29,426,2665,885,253
6TokyoJapan27,611,0005,522,200
7SeoulSouth Korea25,082,5205,016,504
8SantiagoChile23,120,0284,624,006
9LondonUnited Kingdom20,620,0004,124,000
10Mexico CityMexico16,842,4933,368,499

Five of the ten largest carbon-realising capital cities can be found in Asia. In total, they release 219,506,539 tCO2 annually. These cities (Beijing, Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo, and Seoul) would have to plant 43,901,308 trees a year to offset their emissions.

Three of the five cities from Asia (Beijing, Singapore, and Hong Kong) are also the three cities that would need to plant the most trees each year to achieve carbon neutrality. Beijing would need to plant the highest number of trees standing at 15,020,976, followed by Singapore with 9,366,336 and Hong Kong needs to plant 8,975,292.

Which of the world’s capitals need to plant the fewest trees each year to offset its carbon footprint?

RankCityCountryAnnual emissions: (tCO2 or tCO2-eq)Annual trees needed to offset carbon footprint
1ReykjavíkIceland346,63069,326
2WellingtonNew Zealand621,179124,236
3Basel*Switzerland783,932156,786
4LisbonPortugal1,023,910204,782
5OsloNorway1,094,422218,884
6La PazBolivia1,152,922230,584
7AthensGreece1,260,355252,071
8CanberraAustralia1,757,500351,500
9LjubljanaSlovenia1,829,808365,962
10StockholmSweden1,834,343366,869
*Data for Bern was unavailable, therefore Basel was substituted to include Switzerland in this study.


Iceland was found to be the least carbon-emitting capital city as Reykjavik only emits 346,630 tCO2 a year. With such a low carbon footprint, Reykjavik only has to plant 69,326 trees annually to offset its footprint. It is also the only city to produce less than 500,000 tCO2, as well as being the only city to require less than 100,000 trees per year to offset carbon emissions.

New Zealand follows in second place with annual emissions of 621,179 tCO2. For Wellington to neutralise this, it will have to plant 124,236 trees a year. In third place, Basel in Switzerland will have to plant 156,786 trees to offset its footprint. It is also the last city in the study to need less than 200,000 trees a year.

An energy spokesperson at comparethemarket.com, comments: “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. One way we have studied is to offset emissions by planting trees which is great for absorbing CO2, with added benefits of supporting the ecosystem and wildlife.”

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“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. 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.”

“One way to make an individual impact on your reducing carbon emissions is by using renewable energy sources. When considering your energy provider you may wish to explore greener suppliers which can offer 100% or partially renewable sources to power your home.”


Nomvuyo Tena
Nomvuyo Tena is a Content Producer at Clarion Events Africa and is as passionate about the energy transition in Africa as she is about music and Beyonce.

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