Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is no small task. Whether you’re acting individually or within a large organization or company, it’s important first to understand the amount and source of the emissions, and then to take steps to reduce them.
So my co-workers and I got started by holding an office challenge, using the newly updated online carbon calculator from our Make an Impact team to learn more about our carbon footprints and pledge to lower our personal impact on the planet.
I was surprised by the results.
If carbon dioxide were a valuable commodity instead of a waste product, there would be a lot more incentive to capture it.
It turns out some oil producers already find carbon dioxide so useful, they’re willing to pay for it. In fact, they pay upwards of $30 per ton of CO2, which they then inject underground to coax oil from declining wells.
U.S. oil producers have been practicing carbon dioxide enhanced oil recovery (CO2-EOR) for four decades. Historically, they’ve relied mostly on CO2 from naturally occurring underground reservoirs. A better idea is to use man-made carbon emissions that would otherwise go into the atmosphere and contribute to climate change.
The increased availability of natural gas is leading to its expanded use worldwide. Substituting natural gas for coal as a fuel for generating electricity helps reduce the carbon emissions that contribute to climate change because burning natural gas emits only about half as much carbon as burning coal.
But half isn’t zero.
That’s why it’s important to note the recent announcement in the United Kingdom of the next step in building the first full-scale commercial natural gas power plant using carbon capture and storage (CCS).
In the Peterhead CCS project, international oil company Shell and British utility Scottish and Southern Energy Company are teaming up to retrofit a 385 MW natural gas power plant to capture post-combustion carbon dioxide (CO2). Pipelines will take the CO2 to permanent storage in a depleted hydrocarbon reservoir two kilometers under the North Sea. When the project, which received U.K. government incentives, comes online in 2018, it will be able to capture and store 1 million tons of CO2 each year for 10 years.
Alternative Fuel Vehicle & Fueling Infrastructure Deployment Barriers & the Potential Role of Private Sector Financial Solutions
Alternative Fuel Vehicle & Fueling Infrastructure Deployment Barriers & the Potential Role of Private Sector Financial Solutions
by Sarah Dougherty and Nick Nigro
A C2ES report, "A Guide to the Lessons Learned from the Clean Cities Community Electric Vehicle Readiness Projects," summarizes the lessons learned from 16 government, educational and nonprofit groups that received $8.5 million in U.S. Department of Energy grants to advance the deployment of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs). Participants in projects across 24 states and the District of Columbia spent 18 months assessing the barriers to and opportunities for PEV deployment in their regions and preparing and executing readiness plans. See the map below for information about each of the 16 projects.
The C2ES report, “A Guide to the Lessons Learned from the Clean Cities Community Electric Vehicle Readiness Projects,” highlights some of the key findings, including:
- Public outreach about PEVs raises awareness, dispels misconceptions, and supports prudent policy. More information will help consumers make choices and help businesses and governments make decisions about charging station deployment.
- Incentives help overcome the roadblocks to early PEV adoption. Income tax credits and other incentives such as high-occupancy vehicle lane access have spurred PEV purchases
- Access to charging is vital at multi-family residences and workplaces. These are the two highest priority charging locations after single-family homes, but obstacles include low early demand, lack of familiarity with PEVs, and questions about recovering costs.
- Local governments play a key role in charging station deployment. Both public and private charging infrastructure can be governed by local permitting, inspection, building codes, and zoning, parking, and signage rules.
- Electric utilities should plan for PEV adoption. Utilities will need to ensure the grid is responsive to increased demand from PEVs. They can also explore how PEVs can help manage the grid using emerging technologies.
C2ES collaborated with the Department of Energy’s Clean Cities Program and Argonne National Laboratory on the report to help communities across the country learn from the actions grant recipients took to identify and overcome barriers to PEV deployment.
The report is designed to be useful to state and local decision-makers, regardless of their level of experience with PEV technology. It provides an accessible primer to the key issues and a roadmap to more detailed information that cities and states can use directly.
Other Project Activities
One of the target audiences for the PEV Dialogue Group’s Action Plan is undoubtedly the national network of Clean Cities Coalitions, a key group of alternative fuel supporters affiliated with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Cities Program. Clean Cities Coalitions engage in on-the-ground activity to facilitate the deployment of alternative fuel vehicles and fueling infrastructure. The Action Plan helps bring these coalitions up to speed on the steps necessary to smooth the introduction of PEVs in their area.
The first of two webinars took place on April 17, 2012 in partnership with U.S. DOE’s Clean Cities and the Rocky Mountain Institute, both members of the PEV Dialogue Group. Click here to download that slide set. The second webinar took place on June 20, 2012. Click here for the second slide set.
May 7, 2012, in Los Angeles, California
The 2012 Electric Vehicle Symposium (EVS26) brought together many of the leaders in the plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) industry. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Cities Program and Argonne National Laboratory invited grant recipients and industry experts to a workshop facilitated by C2ES. Participants discussed challenges and shared best practices regarding efforts to prepare areas for PEVs and charging infrastructure deployment.
July 10-11, 2012, in Washington, DC
C2ES helped the National Governors Association, Argonne National Laboratory, and the U.S. Department of Energy Clean Cities put on a PEV workshop. The workshop brought together 17 states and other stakeholders, including several PEV Dialogue Group members, to discuss issues related to technology, policy, and consumer outreach for PEVs.
Further information on the workshop including all presentations is available on the NGA website.
A quick glance around this week’s Washington Auto Show might make you wonder if you’ve stepped into the past, with large trucks, SUVs, and sports cars getting all the attention. But look under the hood and you can see the auto industry’s more climate-friendly future.
The cars and trucks of 2014 are lighter, more aerodynamic, and powered by increasingly efficient engines. A key impetus for these improvements is tougher federal fuel economy and greenhouse gas emission standards. The auto show provides evidence that the industry is working to meet these ambitious standards, and that we can significantly reduce emissions without compromising consumer choice.
One way to improve fuel economy is to make the vehicle lighter. That’s exactly what Ford Motor Company did to the best-selling vehicle in the United States: the F-150. All 2015 Ford F-150s will have an aluminum body and truck bed – shedding 700 pounds while still being able to tow and haul more than the previous generation. That could boost its gas mileage from 20 mpg on the highway for the 2014 model to 30 mpg.
Automakers have increasingly substituted strong, lightweight aluminum for steel in hoods, wheels and other components. The F-150 and Tesla’s aluminum-body Model S show they’re going beyond that.
Another way to increase gas mileage is to improve an engine’s ability to convert fuel (potential energy) to work (kinetic energy). General Motors is making the Corvette Sting Ray for the first time 1976, and the new version is beautiful and efficient. The 2015 Sting Ray is the quickest, most powerful, and most efficient Corvette ever made. The 7-speed V-8 Sting Ray gets up to 29 mpg on the highway. That’s about twice the fuel economy of the ’67 Sting Ray my dad drove when I was a kid.
By: Sara Kendall, Weyerhaeuser
Publsihed in The Environmental Forum, January 2014
Companies have long engaged in risk assessment and mitigation as a core business practice.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in its 2012 report “Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation” observes that heavy precipitation, heat waves, and droughts have increased over the last half century. Businesses may not have a position on climate change, but they understand how a flood can shut down transportation, a hurricane can topple buildings and powerlines, or extreme temperatures can disrupt markets and threaten operations and supply chains.
As noted in a recent report by The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, “Weathering the Storm: Building Business Resilience to Climate Change,” there are significant costs associated with these weather events. In 2012, over 800 major weather-related disasters worldwide led to $130 billion in losses. The most expensive events cost more than $1 billion each. Further, 90 percent of the S&P Global 100 Index identified extreme weather and climate change as a current or future risk. Of those, more than one third stated they’ve already experienced adverse effects. It isn’t about whether a company believes in climate change. This is about staying in business.
The C2ES report highlights companies’ efforts to build business resilience. Not surprisingly, the insurance industry is among the first sectors to pay attention. Utility companies are building redundancy and looking at innovative approaches to handling storm surges. Natural resource companies have the added risk that their “factories” are directly exposed to weather conditions.
To get more insight on these issues, I asked Eileen Claussen, president of C2ES, to respond to a few questions raised by the report.
What does business resilience really mean?
"Companies have always navigated a changing business environment. But now they face a changing physical environment, as climate change leads to more frequent and intense heat waves, higher sea levels, and more severe droughts, wildfires, and downpours. Business resilience means assessing and managing these impacts on a company’s facilities, operations, supply and distribution chains, and costs."
Is building business resilience risk management or new business development?
"Both. Extreme weather is certainly a risk. It can close facilities, delay production, disrupt supply and distribution chains, raise operation and capital costs, and reduce demand. Extreme weather can also keep employees from getting to work, disrupt communication systems, and threaten the availability of power and water supplies. But there also are business opportunities in becoming more resilient. Some companies are already working on drought-resistant crops, storm-resistant building materials, and weather-related insurance products. Forms of distributed generation, which provided resilient electricity in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, are promising growth areas as well."
Are you encouraged by what you see being undertaken by businesses to prepare for and respond to extreme-weather events?
"What’s encouraging is that in our discussions with CEOs and members of corporate boards, we’re not being asked, “Is this a problem?” We’re being asked “What should my company do?” Most of the largest global companies are using existing business continuity and emergency management plans to assess and manage their climate risks. But only a few companies say they’ve used climate-specific forecasting tools to assess how these risks are evolving and the potential business impacts. These companies are generally dependent on a key commodity or operate in high-risk locations. So while the vast majority of firms acknowledge risks from extreme weather and climate change, their actions so far to address the risks aren’t going much beyond business as usual."
Where do you think more should be done, and what do you see as the biggest barriers for companies?
"Companies tell us they need user-friendly, localized projections of climate change, and models that can link these projections to specific business impacts. Those in regulated sectors such as water, electricity, and insurance need regulators to be open to the case for increased spending on resilience and policies that encourage customer decisions about sufficient levels of risk mitigation."
Is building business resilience private or public sector work?
"Both. Companies need to manage risks to their facilities and supply and distribution chains, but they also need governments to invest in strengthening resilience of public infrastructure. That’s one reason why we recommend voluntary public-private partnerships to bring together government and business expertise to develop and improve resilience planning.
My view: The bottom line is that extreme weather events are likely to continue and companies should think about building business resilience in a changing climate. We all will be better off if we’re better prepared."
Sara Kendall is vice president, corporate affairs and sustainability, Weyerhaeuser Company. She can be reached at sara.kendall@ weyerhaeuser.com.
Copyright© 2014 Environmental Law Institute®, Washington, DC. Reprinted with permission from ELI®.
A Primer on Federal Surface Transportation Reauthorization and the Highway Trust Fund
by Nick Nigro and Cindy Burbank