Climate Change Policy

Tax Incentives

A wide range of advanced energy-efficient products have been proven and commercialized but have not yet become firmly established in the marketplace. A major reason for this is that conventional technologies get locked in they benefit from economies of scale, consumer awareness and familiarity, and existing infrastructure that make them more attractive to consumers, while alternatives are overlooked although they could be financially viable once mass produced and widely demonstrated. In this...

Present and Future Solar Cell Costs

Despite the fact that PV is the most expensive of the commercial renewable energy technologies when their wholesale bulk power generation costs at a power plant site are compared on a per kilowatt-hour basis, once PV is sited on a building, its cost must be compared to that of fully delivered retail power (from both other renewable and conventional sources), including all transmission, distribution, and utility overhead charges. On this basis, PV is competitive with the other generation...

Electricity from Solar Cells

PV devices turn light directly into electricity without fuel, fire, carbon dioxide, or pollution of any kind. They are silent, use no water, and have no moving parts to break down, and their main ingredient generally is recyclable silicon, the second most common element on Earth. Solar cells can contribute energy cleanly and indefinitely to a sustainable energy economy. PV power is not only simple to use and produces few environmental impacts but is an extremely versatile technology. Solar...

Business Responses Shell Oil Group

Shell Oil Group has also announced initiatives for taking action on climate change in its own operations and helping customers reduce emissions. Shell Oil Group established a new operating division in 1997 known as Shell International Renewables. This and other Shell initiatives seek to support market mechanisms that will help countries grow their economies in an energy efficient Although Shell Oil's businesses are expected to grow by 3 percent a year overall, they have taken steps to ensure...

Consequences of Global Warming

The 1.5 C to 6 C global average temperature rise projected for the current century may seem modest, but as we noted, it could imply quite serious impacts. What might be the consequences The most sophisticated climate models speak to a wide variety of possible impacts from global warming. Recall that a 6 C temperature drop means the difference between Earth's present climate and an ice age. Fortunately, it does not appear that a comparable rise will have consequences as devastating as...

Patterns of Change at the US DOE

Fischerei Nordatlantik

In Fig. 18.7 we compare DOE energy technology R amp D with two measures of total DOE patents. The first measure, patents assigned to the DOE, roughly followed DOE energy technology funding between 1978 and 1996 with a lag . As illustrated in the figure, patents assigned to the DOE increased between 1978 and 1985 and then decreased steadily through 1996. The second measure, patents assigned or related to the DOE, is defined as all patents in the Patent and Trademark Office bibliographic...

Tropical Forest Climate Related Ecosystem Services

GHG levels are only one factor controlling the earth's climate. Apart from their role as reservoirs, sinks, and sources of GHGs, tropical forests have numerous climate-stabilizing properties.31,32 Heating and convection patterns generated at the tropics influence the global circulation of water, energy, and wind patterns. These patterns are influenced by solar radiation and other variables at the land surface. When forests are degraded and replaced by other land uses, some surface biophysical...

Power from the Wind

Wind is an economical, pollution-free, inexhaustible domestic energy resource. As winds spin the blades of an aerodynamically sculpted hub mounted on a tall tower, an alternator behind the rotor generates clean electricity. Wind power is modular and hence scalable Turbines can be used singly, in small clusters, or in large wind farms connected to the power grid. The largest turbines can produce up to 3 MW, but windmills can be made small enough to power an average house drawing 1 kilowatt. In...

Varieties of Carbon Management

Two broad classes of carbon management can be distinguished. The first includes attempts to manipulate natural biogeochemical processes of carbon removal, or carbon sinks.17 The second involves preventing carbon emissions into the atmosphere and instead disposing of carbon in stable reservoirs. David Keith (Box 20.1) Geoengineering is planetary-scale environmental engineering, particularly engineering aimed at counteracting the undesired side effects of other human activities.1 The term usually...

Regional Climate Studies

Much effort has gone into developing general circulation models (GCMs) that simulate global atmospheric circulation and interaction with the earth's land surface and oceans. These models are used to assess the potential impacts of greenhouse gas emissions on the world's climate. GCMs predict an increase in average global surface temperature of 1.5 C to 4.5 C (2.5 F to 8 F) by 2100 that is now widely accepted in the scientific community.1 This range is based on a projected doubling of CO2 during...

Geothermal Energy

Geothermal energy is produced mainly from the ancient heat in the Earth's core remaining from the planet's formation billions of years ago and, to a lesser extent, from radioactive decay heat (of elements such as uranium and thorium) within the Earth's crust. The friction of tectonic (crustal) plates sliding beneath each other at continental margins also supplies geothermal energy. In addition, the upper few feet of the Earth's crust are warmed by the sun's energy. Because geothermal power...

The Analysis Under Autocracy

There is no universal best regulatory instrument the choice among them depends on several contextual factors, including their environmental effectiveness and their cost in achieving any given level of protection.45 Still, under the standard assumption of autocracy that the law is imposed by a single rational actor three presumptions have emerged in the literature on instrument choice. These three presumptions are that incentive instruments are superior to conduct instruments, taxes and tradable...

Electric and Hybrid Vehicles

Like fuel cell vehicles, battery-powered electric vehicles (EVs) are extremely efficient, clean, quiet, smooth running, easy to maintain, and economical to operate. Tailpipe emissions are zero, and if the battery is charged with electricity from solar, wind, geothermal, hydro, or biomass resources, the entire fuel cycle will be emission-free (although emissions are likely in the vehicle manufacturing phase). Electric vehicles are also four to five times as efficient as gasoline vehicles when...

Hydrologic Effects and Water Resources

Higher temperatures mean changes in precipitation patterns that will have a dramatic impact on California's water resources and hydrology. Most researchers agree that global warming will change the form, timing, intensity, and distribution of precipitation in very significant ways, whether or not there is any change in the overall amount of precipitation.22-26 This has profound implications for California's surface water supply. Available surface water depends largely on how much snow falls and...

Global Importance of Biomass

Currently, biomass provides one-fourth of the world's total energy supply and is the primary energy source for three-quarters of the world's people, most of whom are in developing nations. This exceedingly important energy resource often is the only energy source in rural areas of the developing world or for its urban poor, and it is also a significant source in the developed world. Biomass will continue to have a major global energy supply role in the twenty-first century (and beyond),...

Environmental Advantages

Taking a comprehensive approach to climate policy has several significant advantages. First, it is environmentally superior. Piecemeal approaches ignore important sources of the problem and thus neglect important opportunities to solve it. Moreover, they tend to be self-defeating because efforts to solve one aspect of a problem intensify other, neglected aspects. The history of pollution control in the United States offers an example. Our federal environmental statutes have focused on one...

How We Arrived at the Current Situation

Before 1973, energy consumption tended to rise at about the same rate as economic growth. Oil consumption was increasing much faster than economic growth as consumers and industry switched from coal to oil. After 1973, energy consumption growth dropped to only about half of the rate of gross domestic product (GDP) growth as efficiencies were discovered and implemented. Oil consumption remained flat until the mid-1990s as nuclear power plants were commissioned, natural gas achieved significant...

Distinguishing Renewable from Nonrenewable Energy Sources

Solar, hydro, geothermal, and wind technologies all operate without producing carbon emissions. They are called renewable or inexhaustible energy supplies because they are endlessly replenished by nature, like water flowing in a river. By contrast, fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas were created over TABLE 16.2. Renewable Energy Resources and the Services They Provide TABLE 16.2. Renewable Energy Resources and the Services They Provide Gaseous fuels for heat, power, and...

Energy Efficiency as a Resource

Energy efficiency measures the amount of useful work derived from each unit of energy consumed. The greater the efficiency, the less energy needed for a given task. Energy efficiency is an energy resource because saved energy is available to do other useful work. Large efficiency improvements are possible on the supply side through improved energy conversion and transmission technologies and on the demand side through changes in residential, commercial, industrial, and transportation end-use...

Total Mitigation Potential of the Agricultural Sector

In 1995, the IPCC estimated annual worldwide mitigation potential of the agricultural sector to be 1,669-3,417 million metric tons of CO2, 24-92 million metric tons of CH4, and 0.4-1.1 million metric tons of N2O Table 12.4 . Combining these estimates, total mitigation potential would be 620-1,546 million metric tons of carbon equivalent. This represents 13-33 percent of 1990 emissions of CO2, CH4, and N2O from all sectors in Annex I countries,105 a sizable amount given protocol commitments...

Realistic Estimate of Forest Conservation for Climate Mitigation

What is a realistic worldwide assessment of avoided emissions that could be realized under the CDM via tropical forest conservation As noted previously, some groups raised the concern that including tropical forest protection in the Kyoto Protocol would swamp out other more important activities, such as fossil fuel emission reductions in developed countries. For example, Greenpeace suggested that 300 million tons of carbon via forest conservation could enter the carbon market, which would lower...

Treatment of Carbon Sinks in the Kyoto Protocol and the Bonn Agreement

The Kyoto Protocol is not comprehensive in terms of the carbon sources and sinks that will be creditable toward emissions-reduction commitments. Article 3.3 states that sinks must result from direct human-induced land-use change and forestry activities, limited to afforestation, reforestation, and deforestation since 1990. 52 Thus, in terms of the agricultural sector, only carbon storage associated with forestation of former agricultural lands since 1990 would be covered under Article 3.3....

Future Considerations

The most recent UN scenario (middle variant) projects a human population of 8.9 billion by 2050 (see Chapter 9). Given the close link between population size and food production, this near 50 percent increase over the current population will have profound implications for agriculture worldwide. Humans rely on three main systems to supply food oceanic fisheries, rangelands, and croplands.45 Production in the first two systems generally has leveled off, implying that much of the necessary...

Additional Sources of Hydrogen Production

Current projections of central hydrogen production focus on reforming NG, but if other sources became feasible, then producers would be able to sell hydrogen to users through an existing infrastructure. Although they are all at different stages of technical and economic feasibility, most alternative methods for producing hydrogen are more renewable than NG reformation. One potential hydrogen source is biomass. Hydrogen could be produced from biomass through the production of synthetic gas (...

An Ethical Analysis of Allocation Principles for Emissions Rights

This leads us back to the problem with which we started the need for an international agreement to regulate GHG emissions and the controversy over what an acceptable allocation of rights would be. There is an extensive literature on this part of the equity debate, to which I cannot begin to do justice.11 I focus on a relatively narrow but crucial aspect whether the ethical arguments for various allocation principles are convincing. I address the fairness of various principles rather than the...

Intermittency of Wind Power

Wind is created by differential solar heating of the Earth and its atmosphere. The resulting temperature differences involving the land, sea, and air masses and the interaction of air masses with the earth's irregular topography cause air pressure differences that, along with the earth's rotation on its axis, produce wind. Wind is intermittent yet quite predictable on a regional basis and at certain sites and could meet 20 percent or more of U.S. electricity needs without undermining the power...

Solar Power Towers

Within a few years, another type of solar thermal electric power plant, the solar power tower, will enter the commercial power arena. This plant uses a field of specially designed solar-tracking mirrors called heliostats that concentrate sunlight from many angles simultaneously on a tower-mounted heat receptor. From there the energy goes to power an electric generator or to a coupled solar energy storage tank of molten salt for cloudy day and nighttime operation. Power towers have higher solar...

Business Responses British Petroleum

The British Petroleum Company (BP) is one example of a large fossil fuel producer that is beginning to invest in alternative energy products. Among the first steps being taken is an initiative to understand and control the company's own greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.13 For example, a CO2 protocol is being promoted to standardize procedures for measuring GHG emissions from the company. In conjunction with these steps, a CO2 management team has been established to identify CO2 reduction options,...

Energy Crops and Biofuels

Within two or three decades, biomass energy crops could be used to provide the United States with 100,000 MW of electrical generating capacity (12 percent of 1998 U.S. capacity). Raising the crops would take just 50 million acres. For comparison, the United States now plants 72 million acres in soybeans, and 128 million acres of cropland are projected to be idle in 2030. Today the United States has about 11,000 MW of biomass-fueled electric generating capacity. Almost all of the existing...

Using Scenarios to Develop a Plausible Range of Outcomes

The IPCC commissioned a Special Report on Emission Scenarios (SRES)86 both to broaden assessments to include a range of outcomes and to focus analysis on a coherent set of scenario outcomes to facilitate comparison. The scenarios concentrate on assumptions about economic growth, technological developments, and population growth, arguably the three most critical variables affecting the uncertainty over future climate change and policy options. To the extent possible, the Third Assessment Report...

Solar Energy in Buildings

It has been well known for decades that when passive solar features, such as skylights or masses of heat-absorbing concrete, are coupled with sufficient insulation and advanced windows in a holistic building design, vast reductions in a building's energy need are possible. Energy experts at the Center for Buildings and Thermal Systems at the DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory state, The nation today could reduce its energy use by 30 70 percent in buildings by simply incorporating...

Distribution of Activity Types

Climate change mitigation activities can be classified as related to energy efficiency (EEF), renewables (REN), fuel switching (FUE), fugitive gas capture (FGC), land use change and forestry (LUCF),16 agriculture, industrial processes, solvents, waste disposal, and bunker fuels. Only the first five of these activity types have been implemented in AlJs (Fig. 11.3).17 Most projects (83 percent) have been in energy-related activities (EEF, FUE, REN, or FGC). Only 17 percent of the projects have...

Centralized Versus Distributed Hydrogen Production

If FC automobiles are developed without methanol or gasoline reformers, the degree of centralization of hydrogen production still must be decided.60 Under a CM scheme in which CO2 is needed for enhanced NG or coal bed methane recovery, the hydrogen could be produced at the wellhead as part of a reforming and sequestering process. The hydrogen could then be piped through a network to a refueling station. Although it is more useful in terms of CO2 sequestration, depending on distribution costs...

Population and the Kyoto Protocol

The 1997 Kyoto Protocol to the Framework Convention on Climate Change, if ratified, would commit 38 developed Annex B countries to cut their national GHG emissions by an average of 5.2 percent between 1990 and 2008-2012 herein after referred to as 20 1 0 .45 Developing non-Annex B nations face no specific emission limitation obligations in the protocol, on the principle that industrialized nations have contributed the most to the problem and thus have an obligation to take the first steps.46...

Agricultural Lands in Annex I Countries A Source or a Sink of CO

Until the mid-twentieth century, land use changes in North America and Europe were a large source of atmospheric CO2, exceeding emissions from fossil fuel use.72 Conversion of forests or grasslands to agricultural production results in CO2 emissions Vegetation, an important stock of containing carbon, is often removed from the site, and soil carbon is lost as CO2 to the atmosphere through enhanced decomposition of soil organic matter and soil erosion. In addition, land conversion often is...

Opportunities in Non Annex I Countries

The extent to which activities involving land use, land-use change, and forestry (LULUCF) should be included in the CDM has been the subject of heated discussion within the policy community.90 Article 12 of the Kyoto Protocol is silent on the issue of carbon sink projects. Under the Bonn Agreement, afforestation and reforestation are the only eligible LULUCF projects allowed under the CDM in the first commitment period.91 Thus, it is only in later commitment periods that carbon sequestration in...

Fossil Fuel Emission Effects on Human Health and Ecosystems

Alternatives to fossil fuels are being considered because of the seriousness of environmental risks and economic hazards from continuing fossil fuel use. The 1990s have seen three separate policy assessments in the United States involving the effects of emissions from fossil fuel use damages and risks from acid deposition (the National Acid Precipitation Assessment Program),2 an evaluation of ground-level ozone and aerosol particulate health risks (carried out by the U.S. Environmental...

Wind Power Resources Value and Growth in Installed Capacity

Thanks to steeply falling wind power costs (from the early 1980s until today) and rapidly advancing technology, wind capacity is growing faster than any other energy technology in the world today 22 percent a year during the 1990s and 40 percent for the past few years.10 In the 1990s, wind power capacity tripled every 3 years. By the end of 1999, world wind capacity was 13,400 MW, and worldwide investment in wind power was roughly 11 billion. Further large expansions of wind capacity are...

Policies to Address Hot

Allocating too many emission rights to Russia and the Ukraine created the hot air problem. A straightforward correction to this problem would be to renego tiate this initial allocation so that fewer emission rights are assigned. One way would be to request that Russia and the Ukraine agree to reduction targets instead of the present stabilization targets. Another way would be to choose a base year other than 1990 (e.g. 1995) in which most of the emission reductions from the economic collapse...

The Clean Development Mechanism

In Article 12, the Kyoto Protocol articulates and endorses another flexibility mechanism the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). This mechanism is similar to JI in certain respects. Like JI, the CDM gives emission reduction credit to firms in an industrialized nation for the reductions that occur as a result of its financing of an investment project in another country. However, unlike JI, the CDM gives credit for emission reducing projects in countries that do not face national caps. Under the...