Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
Plant and Environmental Science
Dr. Elena A. Mikhailova
Dr. Carlyle Brewster
Dr. Christopher J. Post
Dr. Mark A. Schlautman
The Vermont (VT) Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA, 2020) sets greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction targets as 26% below 2005 by 2025, 40% below 1990 by 2030 and 80% below 1990 by 2050 for energy-related emissions only. Vermont’s omission of GHG emissions from land conversions can result in significant costs of inaction (COI), which can hinder state’s mitigation and adaptation plans and result in a climate crisis-related risks (e.g., credit downgrade). Science-based spatio-temporal data of GHG emissions from soils as a result of land conversions can be integrated into the conceptual framework of “action” versus “inaction” to prevent GHG emissions. The application of soil information data and remote sensing analysis can identify the GHG emissions from land conversions, which can be expressed as “realized” social costs of “inaction”. This study demonstrates the rapid assessment of the value of regulating ecosystems services (ES) from soil organic carbon (SOC), soil inorganic carbon (SIC), and total soil carbon (TSC) stocks, based on the concept of the avoided social cost of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions for VT by soil order and county using remote sensing and information from the State Soil Geographic (STATSGO) and Soil Survey Geographic Database (SSURGO) databases. Classified land cover data for 2001 and 2016 were downloaded from the Multi-Resolution Land Characteristics Consortium (MRLC) website. These results provide accurate and quantitative spatio-temporal information about likely GHG emissions, which can be linked to VT’s climate action plan. A failure to considerably reduce emissions from land conversions in the future may need even larger reductions in the future and would increase climate change costs to VT and beyond its borders.
Younts, Grayson L., "Vermont Global Warming Solutions Act: The Costs of Inaction from Land Conversions" (2022). All Theses. 3760.