Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Good News on the Greenhouse Gas Front: US Emissions Are Down. Now the Question Becomes, How to Keep Them That Way

Straight Goods editor Penney Kome passes on a bit of good news via a recent analysis of where we are in the greenhouse gas emissions fight. Lester R. Brown, of the Earth Policy Institute and who has been on the case for years, says that things are actually much better than they were two years ago. US. carbon emissions have dropped 9 percent since 2007, in part due to the recession, but also from efficiency gains and fuel substitions.

Brown writes” As motorists turn to public transit, and also to bicycles, the U.S. car fleet is shrinking. The estimated scrappage of 14 million cars in 2009 will exceed new sales of 10 million by 4 million, shrinking the fleet 2 percent in one year. This shrinkage will likely continue for a few years” as fuel enconomy standards come into effect and the increased use of hybrid and all-electric cars.

To those who point out that the electricty for these vehicles has to be generated somehow, he answers thatt: “not only are electric motors three times more efficient than gasoline engines, but they also enable cars to run on wind power at a gasoline-equivalent cost of 75¢ a gallon.”

He adds: “We are headed in the right direction. We do not yet know how much we can cut carbon emissions because we are just beginning to make a serious effort. Whether we can move fast enough to avoid catastrophic climate change remains to be seen.”

One caveat should be considered here, though: when fuel efficiency standards were introduced after the 1970s petroleum crunch the gains were very shortly frittered away in making more powerful vehicules, not capitalizing on the economies. We must not fall into the trap this time. Denser living patterns will have a longer lasting effect than short term dips mandated by standards that some people may try to get around.

1 comment:

Martin Langeland said...

The EV prospect may be better than "a gasoline-equivalent cost of 75¢ a gallon.” See
a Better Place's site.
Look at their videos and other marketing. It is one of the more hopeful projects I, personally, have encountered.
I wish the stimulus involved entrepreneurs like this one more than bailouts to dying industries and legalized crap tables(i.e.: Wall Street).