A life-cycle carbon footprint of Yosemite National Park

Gara Villalba, Leland Tarnay, Elliott Campbell, Xavier Gabarrell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Like cities, many large national parks in the United States often include "urban" visitor and residential areas that mostly demand (rather than produce) energy and key urban materials. The U.S. National Park Service has committed to quantifying and reducing scopes 1 and 2 emissions by 35% and scope 3 emissions by 10% by 2020 for all parks. Current inventories however do not provide the specificity or granularity to evaluate solutions that address fundamental inefficiencies in these inventories. By quantifying and comparing the importance of different inventory sectors as well as upstream and downstream emissions in Yosemite National Park (YNP), this carbon footprint provides a case study and potential template for quantifying future emissions reductions, and for evaluating tradeoffs between them. Results indicate that visitor-related emissions comprise the largest fraction of the Yosemite carbon footprint, and that increases in annual visitation (3.43-3.90 million) coincide with and likely drive interannual increases in the magnitude of Yosemite's extended inventory (126,000-130,000tCO2e). Given this, it is recommended that "per visitor" efficiency be used as a metric to track progress. In this respect, YNP has annually decreased kilograms of GHG emissions per visitor from 36.58 (2008) to 32.90 (2011). We discuss opportunities for reducing this measure further. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1336-1343
JournalEnergy Policy
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2013


  • Carbon footprint
  • GHG emissions
  • National parks


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