Our civilization seems to be in the denial stage on that climate change thing. Even the folks that know there is a problem don’t seem to realize the speed at which we need to act to have a decent chance of avoiding some of the catastrophic effects of climate change. A good way to think about the emissions reductions required is by examining our global carbon budget, or the total remaining CO2 our civilization can emit. Listen in as we attempt to explain carbon budgets.
By: Stephanie Borsum
Carbon dioxide emissions are one of the largest contributors to air pollution and climate change and the United States is responsible for the largest per capita emissions of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The main carbon emission sources in the U.S. are electricity production and power plant operations. It is necessary to regulate the direct sources of carbon dioxide emissions in order to prevent further irreversible damage to our environment and society. It is time for our nation’s carbon emissions to drastically decline in order to prevent dramatic climate events and destruction to our living environment.
The United States has about 6,000 electricity generating power plants, most of which are coal fired and emit a significant amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. These power plants alone account for 41% of the total U.S. carbon emissions. A report by Environment America which ranked the top 100 dirtiest power plants in America, states that about half of those carbon emissions come from the 100 dirtiest power plants. The top 50 dirtiest plants alone produced 30 percent of all power-sector carbon dioxide emissions, but only generated 16 percent of electricity nationwide in 2011, which illustrates the urgency to increase efficiency. The report also states that if the top 50 dirtiest power plants in the United States created their own country, it would qualify as the seventh-biggest polluter in the world. That is just a small fraction of the power plants currently operating in our country. A main reason these coal power plants in the U.S. are exceptionally dirty is because until recently, there have been no federal policies in place to put limits on emissions.
Continue reading Cleaning Up America’s Power Plants
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is currently developing carbon pollution reduction standards for new and existing power plants that will be implemented under the Clean Air Act as part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan. According to the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), “fossil fuel lawyers are attacking the standards, saying that the EPA does not have the authority under the Clean Air Act to establish any actual limits on carbon pollution. If the EPA does have that authority, there are no demonstrated measures to reduce carbon pollution from power plants, so any required emission reductions must at most be ‘minimal.'”