Now that the die is cast for the talks in Copenhagen, and the Senate is focused on health care reform, we have a short time out on climate change legislation. Let’s hope that gives everyone a chance to think about how to craft a climate program that can really work.
Among other things, I would like to see the energy and climate legislation include provisions to ensure that energy efficiency standards for appliances and homes will really improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions – and not be counterproductive window dressing.
To be effective, we need to measure energy efficiency and carbon footprint on a life cycle “source energy” basis. This is the approach recommended by the National Academy of Sciences report and supported by the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) in its joint statement with AGA.
They agree that it makes no sense to burn natural gas at a power station to serve consumer needs that can be served more efficiently through “direct use” – i.e. by burning the natural gas directly in the home in efficient natural gas furnaces and water heaters.
You have to combust two to three times more natural gas (!) – and emit two to three times more carbon dioxide – to deliver the same number of hot showers and warm homes in electric resistance appliances. And that does not even take into account the emissions resulting from electric appliances served by coal-fired power plants. Source energy is an idea whose time has come.
Want to know more? See my article “A Climate of Change” in this month’s American Gas magazine.