Leaf of Faith

Reducing carbon emissions? That’s gonna take a LEAF of faith! 

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Ever drive past a few stringy trees planted in the middle of the road, and wonder – “What’s the point?” Well… COULD urban greenery ACTUALLY make an impact on vehicle emissions?

 Dandan Wei and team at Columbia Climate School wondered.

 They used maps of greened parts of New York City with computer models of carbon dioxide emissions. And? The green areas absorbed forty percent of carbon emissions from vehicles! Where does it all go? Plants require carbon dioxide to produce energy and sugars through photosynthesis. Carbon dioxide absorption is especially high in the summer when plants experience the most growth.

 The researchers believe their tools can help measure a city’s progress towards emission reduction goals. This research also highlights the importance of greenspace as part of the urban ecosystem. 

 When it comes to reducing emissions, we’re ROOTING for our greenspaces!


Wei, D., Reinmann A., Schiferl L.D., Commane R. High resolution modeling of vegetation reveals large summertime biogenic CO2 fluxes in New York City. Environ Res Lett 17, 124031 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/aca68f