At least 36% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions - about 2,263 million metric tons - originate in rural areas due to higher-emitting activities, despite the smaller population in such areas, according to a new analysis released Wednesday by Rural Climate Partnership.

It said rural communities are at the front line of climate change due to emissions from agriculture and power plants. 

Agriculture represents about 10% of total U.S. emissions, and about 90% of that originated in rural communities, the report said. Some 46% of power plant emissions originate in rural areas, including 60% of coal-fired energy production.

The report added that rural communities often face persistent poverty and receive less philanthropic funding to ameliorate the effects of GHG emissions. 

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“We often say that the ‘road to climate progress runs straight through rural America,’ and this research confirms that rural communities will be central to the United States meeting its climate goals,” said Maria Doerr, program officer at the partnership and lead author of the report.

The report noted that rural areas also are leading in clean energy production. For example, 79% of renewable energy generation to date, excluding hydroelectric, has been installed in rural areas. This includes 60% of solar energy and 91% of wind energy capacity. 

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