CO2 emission reduction through reducing energy usage

Sep 25, 1997 02:00 AM

The Clinton administration released a study that said technology and energy efficiency could completely offset the costs of cutting the industrial pollution that is warming the planet.
"If you design a climate policy to allow time and flexibility, then you can use the ingenuity of our scientists and engineers," Joseph Romm, acting assistant energy secretary for efficiency and renewable energy, said.
In the study done by five of its laboratories, the Energy Department said investments in technologies such as advanced natural gas turbines, biomass and biofuels, and energy-saving appliances, could save many consumers and businesses money and would keep the nation's overall energy bill from rising.
Opponents of the administration's efforts to forge a treaty for countries to cut emissions from burning oil and coal have focused on how industries such as automobiles and other heavy manufacturing could be ravaged.
The Energy Department study acknowledged "there surely will be winners and losers" in a major effort to switch to a high-efficiency, low carbon-producing economy. But it said the overall economy could thrive under a treaty that forced cuts in carbon emissions.
Earlier this month, Clinton said the nation could slash its carbon emissions by 20 % with available technology, a view that Romm said this study supports.
The study said U.S. carbon emissions could be reduced at no net cost by the 390 million metric tonnes needed to stabilise emissions at 1990 levels. It would require technology and a scheme to trade credits to pollute that put a $ 50 per metric ton permit price on carbon emissions.
Reducing emissions would cost from $ 50-$ 90 billion per year, while reduced energy use would save $ 70-$ 90 billion per year, the study said.
Energy savings could be substantially higher if carbon permit prices rose above $ 50 per ton, and if an international emissions trading scheme existed, Romm said.
The study looked at 200 technologies used in four major energy-intensive sectors of the economy -- transportation, buildings, utilities and industry.
For example, it said, retiring coal-powered electricity plants and retooling to natural gas could save some 95 million tons of carbon emissions. Greater transportation fuel economy and more use of ethanol could save 103 million metric tons.

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