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Anthropogenic emission inventory and spatial analysis of greenhouse gases and primary pollutants for the Galapagos Islands

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Climate change and air pollution are critical challenges that humanity is currently facing. Understanding the sources of emissions released into the atmosphere is of great importance to evaluate the local footprint, the impacts of human activities, and the opportunities to develop and implement solutions to mitigate emissions and adapt to climate change particularly in vulnerable places like the Galapagos Islands. In this study, we present an anthropogenic emissions inventory for Santa Cruz, San Cristobal, and Isabela Islands in which emissions were spatially mapped for greenhouse gasses (GHGs) and primary pollutants (PP). Emissions were estimated for the energy stationary sources, energy mobile sources, waste, and other sectors, and emissions for 2019 were spatially distributed along with an uncertainty assessment. Results demonstrated that energy mobile sources which are aerial, terrestrial, and maritime transportation generated the most significant emissions in the Galapagos Islands in terms of PP and GHGs. In fact, maritime transportation was the highest one in 2019, at 41% of total CO2 emissions for Galapagos, with the most predominant PP being NOx and CO. The aerial transportation made up 36% of emissions, and the electricity generation contributed 15%. Emissions from waste and other sectors comprise a smaller percentage relative to the rest of the emission sectors. These results highlight the strong dependency of the islands on fossil fuels for transportation and electricity generation. Alternatives to mitigate and reduce emissions from the islands are discussed. This spatially mapped emissions inventory for the Galapagos Islands represents a powerful tool to make informed decisions to contribute to the long-term sustainability of the archipelago.

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All data generated or analyzed during this study are included in this published article.


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We would like to express our sincere gratitude to the Governing Council of the Special Regime of Galapagos for providing valuable dataset that was used in this study. We would especially like to thank Maria Isabel Loyola for her contribution to the final analysis, calculations, and revisions of the inventory.


This research was funded by Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ) under PoliGrants 2021–2022 given to Cristina Mateus.

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All authors contributed to the study conception and design. Material preparation, data collection, formal analysis, investigation, and data curation were performed by Cristina Mateus, Daniela Flor, and Christian A. Guerrero. Project administration, supervision, funding acquisition, reviewing, and editing were done by Cristina Mateus. The first draft of the manuscript was written by Cristina Mateus and Daniela Flor. All authors commented on previous versions of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Cristina Mateus.

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Mateus, C., Flor, D., Guerrero, C.A. et al. Anthropogenic emission inventory and spatial analysis of greenhouse gases and primary pollutants for the Galapagos Islands. Environ Sci Pollut Res 30, 68900–68918 (2023).

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