Reducing carbon emissions: the options

NUSA DUA, Indonesia, Dec 9, 2007 (AFP) – Here are the main options for tackling greenhouse-gas emissions, listed by order of feasibility:

– ENERGY EFFICIENCY: Improve energy efficiency in transport, buildings, appliances, lighting. ADVANTAGE: Can make big, early gains in braking growth in carbon pollution. DISADVANTAGE: Tougher standards may run into opposition from transport lobby, consumer resistance. – CLEAN RENEWABLES: The logical answer, but not easy or swift to achieve. Wind, solar and hydro are the main sources, followed by biomass, geothermal, tidal and wave power. Hydrogen and fuel cells are promising but still distant as a commercial source. ADVANTAGES: Non-polluting, safe, free from geopolitical risk as the energy is derived from within the country and not imported. DISADVANTAGES: Entry costs still high (although those of wind are falling fast); climate and geography may impose a niche role; large hydro projects contested because of environmental impact.

– BIOFUELS: Transport fuel derived from plants has seen a spectacular boom in the last two years, driven by the United States’ efforts to reduce its dependence on foreign oil. ADVANTAGE: Very low pollution. The plant sucks CO2 from the air in order to grow, and this CO2 is released when the fuel is burned. (Additional emissions, though, come from using machinery to plant, harvest and process the crop). DISADVANTAGE: Present-generation biof