(562a) Carbon Footprint of Agrarian Systems

Authors: 
Dubinsky, J., University of Colorado Denver
Karunanithi, A. T., University of Colorado Denver

Carbon footprint is an important sustainability metric that quantifies the climate impacts (interms of carbon dioxide equivalents) of human activity. This approach is well researched, understood and established for systems at national scale (countries), and city scale (cities and towns). Several methodologies including IPCC and World Resource Institute (WRI) have developed standardized protocols for estimating carbon footprint. These protocols have been used by local governments to develop sustainability strategies with a focus on climate mitigation. However, these protocols and methodologies fail to capture the entire picture when applied to regional agrarian systems due to their unique characteristics. Agrarian systems are primarily production oriented (e.g. grow food) as against urban systems which are demand centers (e.g. Consume food and energy). In this paper we present a carbon footprint methodology that is specifically tailored for rural agrarian systems. This methodology captures unique characteristics of agrarian systems such as land use emissions. We present a case study related to the application of the developed carbon footprint methodology to San Luis Basin, Colorado. Further, the use of carbon footprint along with other metrics to assess sustainability of the region is discussed. Finally, future sustainability of the region is assessed through scenario modeling and analysis.