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The Impacts of Alternative Patterns of Urbanization on Greenhouse Gas Emissions in an Agricultural County


Different patterns of urban development may have widely varying long-term effects on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. To investigate such effects, we used UPlan geographic information system–based software to model three 2050 urban-growth scenarios for Yolo County, a predominantly agricultural area near Sacramento, Califor- nia. Two scenarios correspond to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s A2 and B1 storylines. We also added a third, infill-only scenario called AB32-Plus that assumes continued strong climate change policy in California and highly compact urban development. Results show dramatically different levels of GHG emissions from transportation and residential-building energy use in the three scenarios, especially when compact urban development is combined with strong assumptions about energy efficiency and population. The preservation of farmland is also an important climate mitigation and adaptation benefit of the compact-development alternative.

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