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Global Climate Change Digest

A Guide to Information on Greenhouse Gases and Ozone Depletion
Published July 1988 through June 1999



Item #d92oct107

In a briefing on the Earth Summit before a Congressional panel, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator William Reilly said that the U.S. will probably come close to stabilizing its CO2 emissions at 1990 levels by the year 2000 (Intl. Environ. Rptr., p. 522, Aug. 12, 1992). The reduction in emissions needed to achieve this stabilization is expected to follow largely from increased energy efficiency. The U.S. EPA Green Lights Program, aimed at helping industries reduce power consumption for electric lighting, is in its second year and is a pilot for similar programs to be established with the Department of Energy to promote energy efficiency in computers, motors, air conditioning, refrigerators and other widely used equipment. The Green Lights annual report describes progress in the first year (see Reports/Energy Use, this GCCD issue--Oct. 1992). A monthly news bulletin is available, as well as a Green Lights hotline (202-775-6650).

Another factor that will at least limit if not reduce energy use is the growing practice of "demand-side management," whereby electric utilities encourage their business and residential customers to use energy more efficiently, through public education and rebates for installing efficient equipment. For several reasons, among them concern over the environmental impacts of electricity generation (see next item), utilities are increasingly finding it cheaper and easier to reduce the growth in demand for electricity than to add new generating capacity.

Many utilities are voluntarily striving to reduce environmental impacts, including reducing net CO2 emissions, as a matter of policy. One of the foremost examples is California's Pacific Gas and Electric, which in addition to a vigorous demand-side management program, has undertaken a multi-million dollar field test of the strategies of energy-efficiency advocate Amory Lovins (Energy, Econ. & Clim. Change, pp. 9-11, July 1992). Lovins believes that with proper design, energy use in buildings can be cut at least 75% at no extra cost or even with cost savings.

Another example is the New England Electric System, which announced a plan last November that aims to reduce environmental impacts, among other goals. The utility group intends to reduce net air emissions (including greenhouse gases) from its operations an estimated 45% in the 1990s. One of its recent ventures will pay a forest products company in southeast Asia $450,000 to minimize lumbering waste and subsequent CO2 emissions in its logging operations.

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