Michael Jerrett, Amir Jina, Miriam Marlier
In this short communication, we estimate that California’s wildfire carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions from 2020 are approximately two times higher than California’s total greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions since 2003. Without considering future vegetation regrowth, CO2e emissions from the 2020 wildfires could be the second most important source in the state above either industry or electrical power generation. Regrowth may partly of fully occur over a long period, but due to exigencies of the climate crisis most of the regrowth will not occur quickly enough to avert greater than 1.5 degrees of warming. Global monetized damages caused by CO2e from in 2020 wildfire emissions amount to some $7.1 billion USD. Our analysis suggests that significant societal benefits could accrue from larger investments in improved forest management and stricter controls on new development in fire-prone areas at the wildland-urban interface.