Press Release: New Studies Highlight Opportunities for Reducing Emissions While Maintaining Economic Growth

For Immediate Release:
May 23, 2000

Contact: Juan Cortinas (202-777-3519)
             Katie Mandes (703-516-4146)

New Studies Highlight Opportunities for China, Brazil and Argentina to Reduce Emissions While Maintaining Economic Growth

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Pew Center on Global Climate Change released today three new studies that outline realistic opportunities for China, Brazil and Argentina to address the challenge of climate change. The reports are part of a six report series that examines ways to reduce emissions in developing countries without compromising economic growth.

China, Brazil and Argentina are becoming leaders among developing nations in the international climate change debate and the case studies demonstrate the effectiveness of different policy approaches to emission reductions. In the latest reports, the authors use a linear programming model to conduct an assessment of the technological options available to each country for supplying new electric power generation through 2015.

"These reports are particularly noteworthy because of the geographical and economic importance of each nation examined. They highlight the different challenges and circumstances that developing nations face in addressing environmental problems," said Eileen Claussen, President of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change.

The three previous reports released in the series included an overview piece entitled Developing Countries and Global Climate Change: Electric Power Options for Growth and an examination of the electric power sectors of India and Korea.

Following is a brief overview of each report's findings, recommendations and conclusions:

China

The Developing Countries and Global Climate Change: Electric Power Options in China report was completed by the Beijing Energy Efficiency Center and the Battelle Advanced International Studies Unit. With annual releases of over 918 million metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, Chinese decisions affecting energy development and emissions mitigation will significantly impact world climate. The report assesses the current and future state of the power sector to meet projected demand through 2015 under several scenarios

The Chinese analysis yielded several insights:

  • Due to the heavy reliance on coal-fired power generation, baseline carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide emissions from thermal plants will more than double by 2015.
  • Increasing demand-side energy efficiency by 10 percent could reduce carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide emissions by 19 and 13 percent, respectively, in 2015, while lowering costs.
  • Expanding the availability of low-cost natural gas through market reforms could reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide in the power sector by 14 and 35 percent, respectively, by 2015, and increase costs by only 4 percent compared to the baseline.
  • Accelerating the penetration of cleaner coal technologies could help China reduce sulfur dioxide and particulate emissions, but the associated impact on carbon emissions would be minimal and the cost would increase by 6 percent.

Brazil

Developing Countries and Global Climate Change: Electric Power Options in Brazil, was developed by the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Energy Planning Program, Center for Technology, and the Battelle Advanced International Studies Unit. The study points out that Brazil produces relatively few greenhouse gas emissions relative to its size and population. This is mainly due to the dominant role of hydropower in electricity generation. Yet its greenhouse gas emissions could be expected to quadruple, as it changes its fuel mix over the next 20 years.

The Brazilian case study also revealed that:

  • Many new investors may favor natural gas-fired combined-cycle plants that would increase carbon dioxide emissions from 3.4 million tons in 1995 to 14.5 million tons in 2015.
  • Further tightening of local environmental regulations and adoption of renewable energy policies could reduce carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide emissions by 82 percent and 75 percent, respectively, by 2015.
  • Creating a carbon-free power sector would require an additional $25 billion in cumulative costs by 2015.

Argentina

The last report in the series is entitled Developing Countries and Global Climate Change: Electric Power Options in Argentina and was developed by the Bariloche Foundation also working with Battelle. The report finds that the market reforms the country has been implementing since the early 1990's provided mixed, but on balance, positive environmental results. The country's electric power demand is expected to more than triple over the next 15 years, yet its emissions of greenhouse gases, do not have to increase at the same rate. It finds that investments in natural gas combined-cycle plants and renewable energy sources could provide a prudent path for energy development and environmental protection.

The report also found several key opportunities, including:

  • Adopting policies that favor renewable energy sources and nuclear power would cost $32 billion by 2015 and would decrease carbon dioxide emissions from 14 million tons in the baseline to 11 million tons in 2015.
  • Increasing energy efficiency would reduce total costs by $6.3 billion and carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions would all decline 20 percent compared to the baseline.

A complete copy of each report is available on the Pew Center's web site, www.c2es.org.

The Pew Center was established in May 1998 by the Pew Charitable Trusts, one of the nation's largest philanthropies and an influential voice in efforts to improve the quality of America's environment. The Pew Center supports businesses in developing marketplace solutions to reduce greenhouse gases, produces analytical reports on the science, economics and policies related to climate change, launches public education efforts, and promotes better understanding of market mechanisms globally. Eileen Claussen, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, is the President of the Pew Center.

The Pew Center includes the Business Environmental Leadership Council, which is composed of 21 major, largely Fortune 500 corporations all working with the Pew Center to address issues related to climate change. The companies do not contribute financially to the Pew Center - it is solely supported by contributions from charitable foundations.