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Climate Change: Climate Change Solutions
Table of Contents
Acknowledgements
Background and Overview
Contributing Causes of Global Warming
Impacts of Global Warming
Reasons for Action
Climate Change Solutions
The Individual's Role
Where To Go for Help
Complete List of Links

Essential Links:

Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage
Report represents the formally agreed statement of the IPCC concerning current understanding of carb...

Safeguarding the Ozone Layer and the Global Climate System: Issues Related to Hydrofluorocarbons and...
This IPCC Special Report - offers a balanced scientific, technical, and policy relevant report regar...

Unlocking Energy Efficiency in the U.S. Economy
Report offers a detailed analysis of the magnitude of the efficiency potential in non-transportation...


This section discusses examples of strategies, collaborative partnerships, technologies, energy and water efficiency opportunities, and other opportunities to mitigate the effects of global warming and help reduce emissions.

Some of the major efforts by the scientific, environmental, economic, and policy communities working in climate change focus on the following issues and opportunities:

  • Continued study of causes and impacts of climate change, including modeling for a future world;
  • Disseminating information on, and implementing measures or incentives to increase energy and fuel efficiency and use of renewable energy;
  • Devising protocols to measure and calculate accurate greenhouse gas inventories and emissions from defined sources;
  • Developing policy and plans, such as Climate Action Plans, reporting protocols and schemes, carbon trading schemes, etc.;
  • New or updated technology, including alternatives to the use of more potent greenhouse gases (GHG); and,
  • Changing behaviors;

Due to the abundance of available programs, tools, and assistance relating to mitigating climate change, only a representative set of possibilities and examples are presented here, categorized as follows:


GHG Inventories, Reductions, and Calculators

From an organizational or operational perspective, an annual inventory of GHG emissions is useful in climate action planning and managing GHG emissions. In addition, GHG emissions can be calculated and reported on a project level basis.

Understanding an organization's contribution to GHG emissions is a regulatory requirement for some, but is commonly done on a voluntary basis as well. Quantifying GHG emissions in an inventory serves as a useful metric to measure the effectiveness of energy and fuel efficiency efforts - and renewable energy use. Quantifying project emission reductions allows for potential carbon trading for eligible and verified projects, or simply, to understand the impact of an individual project or effort to reduce GHGs.

Regulations and requirements for organizational reporting and managing GHG emissions are becoming increasingly important. The EPA issued a Final Mandatory Reporting of Greenhouse Gases Rule, for annual reporting starting in the year 2010. The mandatory reporting requires emissions from more than 10,000 facilities in the U.S., and is intended to collect accurate and timely emissions data to inform future policy decisions. The Securities Exchange Commission issued guidance on corporate disclosure of climate risk by the country's nearly 9,000 publically traded companies. EPA is widely expected (in spring of 2010) to impose the first-ever direct federal controls on GHG emissions, affecting at least 14,000 stationary sources, and possibly many more. And, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) is reportedly about to issue new guidance on how climate change impacts should be incorporated into the environmental review process for every major public or private project requiring federal approval or obtaining federal funding.

Some available calculation tools for GHG emissions - with varying scope and coverage and level of detail include the following:

Name of Calculator or Tool(s) Author or Producer Scope and Purpose Intended Audience Use and Training
The Greenhouse Gas Protocol - Calculation Tools Greenhouse Gas Protocol Initiative Sector-specific and cross-sector calculators to determine GHG emissions from energy consumption, combustion of fuels and other GHG-emitting processes Organizations and companies seeking to report emissions to the GHG Protocol or calculate for internal use or voluntary reporting. Requires registration to access and download MS Excel-based tools
Climate Leaders' Simplified GHG Emissions Calculator (and Guidance) U.S. EPA Climate Protection Partnership Division, Office of Atmospheric Programs In the Climate Leaders archives, many partner companies completed a corporate-wide inventory of GHG emissions using these tools. The resources available on this website help corporations inventory their GHG emissions, set aggressive reduction goals and plan mitigation actions Organizations and companies seeking to calculate emissions for internal use or voluntarily reporting Online webinar, tutorial, and guidance document
U.S. EPA P2 Greenhouse Gas Calculator U.S. EPA Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention This tool calculates the GHG emission reductions from electricity conservation, green energy, fuel and chemical substitutions with lower GHG-intensities, water conservation, and improved materials and process management, applicable to many manufacturing sectors.
Organizations seeking to calculate emission reductions associated with specific activities Webinar tutorial, tools, and contact information available for downloading from National Pollution Pevention Roundtable (scroll down)
Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator U.S. EPA, Green Power Partnership, Climate Protection Partnership Division Calculator tool to show the environmental equivalency of a green power purchase in order to better communicate a green power purchase to interested stakeholders. It translates from kilowatt-hours (kWh) purchased into more understandable terms, such as an equivalent number of passenger vehicles, homes, or coal plants Organizations looking to purchase green power On-line web tool with instructions
Waste Reduction Model (WARM) Calculator U.S. EPA Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery WARM calculates marginal emissions reductions and increases from waste management alternatives for common materials in the municipal waste stream Individuals or organizations seeking to tie GHG emission reductions to reduced wastes On-line tool and training
Recycled Content (ReCon) Calculator EPA, Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery The ReCon tool calculates the GHG and energy benefits of increasing the recycled content of specific materials Individuals or organizations seeking to tie GHG emission reductions to green purchasing On-line tool and training
Economic Input-Output Life Cycle Assessment (EIO-LCA) Model Carnegie Mellon EIO-LCA estimates materials and energy resources required for, and environmental emissions resulting from economic activities related to those materials Individuals or organizations seeking to tie GHG emission reductions to materials On-line tool (1997 and 2002 versions)
Office Carbon Footprint Tool Calculator (WasteWise) U.S. EPA Waste Wise This tool assists offices in making decisions to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with their activities, and includes examples of carbon-cutting actions such as recycling, waste prevention, and green power purchasing Offices seeking to understand their inventory and GHG emissions Downloadable tool
Energy Star Portfolio Manager EPA, Energy Star, Climate Protection Partnership Division, Portfolio Manager calculates energy and water consumption within individual buildings as well as across an entire building portfolio and provides a score on how a business is doing with respect to energy consumption Those who own, manage, or hold properties for investment On-line services; webinars, presentations, and pre-recorded trainings
Clean Air Cool Planet Campus Calculator Clean Air Cool Planet This tool contains projection and solutions modules, designed to aid schools that have completed GHG inventories, in developing long term, comprehensive climate action plans based on those inventories; it facilitate analysis of carbon reduction options, determining project payback times, net present value, cost per ton reduced, and other relevant markers Campuses Downloadable spreadsheet file and guidance document
State Inventory and Projection Tool U.S. EPA State and Local Climate and Energy Program This interactive spreadsheet model designed to help states develop GHG emissions inventories via a state inventory tool and a projection tool. The State Inventory Tool (SIT) gives users the option of applying their own state-specific data or using default data pre-loaded for each state. The Projection Tool allows users to create a simple forecast of emissions through 2020 based on historical emissions and projections of future energy consumption, population, and economic factors. State government Request a copy online
Landfill Methane Outreach Program (LMOP) Benefits Calculator U.S. EPA, Climate Change Division, Office of Atmospheric Programs The Landfill Methane Outreach Program Benefits Calculator calculates the direct emissions reductions and the avoided emissions (from electricity generation) of landfill methane projects LMOP partners and managers of LFGTE projects Online tool and services
Electronics Environmental Benefits Calculator Federal Electronics Challenge (under U.S. EPA) The EEBC estimates the environmental and economic benefits of purchasing Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT)-registered products, in addition to improvements in equipment operation and end-of-life management practices. The calculator estimates numerous environmental improvements including CO2/Greenhouse gas emission reductions. Organizations interested in estimating the environmental benefits of greening their purchase, use and disposal of electronics On-line tool and instructions

The above tools are free to the public. Many more are available for purchase. A 2010 report by renewable energy and energy efficiency consultants Groom Energy Solutions identified about 60 vendors offering enterprise carbon accounting software—up from about 40 vendors in mid 2008. The report estimates that the number of organizations using such software will increase 600 percent by 2011.

Reporting: Protocols, Standards, and Registries

Numerous reporting standards or protocols exist for GHG accounting and reporting. This can be a detailed undertaking for companies wanting to report per a particular protocol or standard, and/or use carbon reduction or removals for carbon credits. Factors affecting level of rigor:

  • Accounting for internal use vs. external reporting (requiring adherence to a protocol, and third-party validation and verification)
  • The selected reporting registry (some are more rigorous than others)
  • Boundaries and scope: for instance, project-level vs. organization- or entity-level accounting and reporting, or other boundaries such as material or waste specific emissions, or those emitted by a community or government body.

Organizational or Entity-Level Protocols (Not a complete list)

Protocol or Standard

Reporting Registry

The Greenhouse Gas Protocol Corporate Standard

Various

ISO 14064 Part 1: Specification with Guidance at the Organization Level for Quantification and Reporting of GHG Emissions and Removals

Various

California Climate Action Registry – General Reporting Protocol Version 3.1 (based on WRI protocols, not restricted to California businesses)

The Climate Registry (reporting in online tool called CARROT)

U.S. EPA Climate Leaders– Program Requirements and Conformance Policy

US EPA Climate Leaders

U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Section 1605(b) Program (managed by the Energy Information Administration within the U.S. Department of Energy)

1605 b (via Report (Form EIA-1605)



Project/Activity Level or “Reduction/Removal” Protocols (Not a complete list)

**Qualifying protocol for carbon credit or trading schemes.

Protocol or standard

Reporting Registry

The Greenhouse Gas Protocol Project Standard

Various

ISO 14064 Part 2: Specification with Guidance at the Project Level for the Quantification, Monitoring and Reporting of GHG Emission Reductions and Removal Enhancements

Various

U.S. DOE’s Section 1605(b) Program (enhanced in 2002 under climate change initiative – revision includes sub-entity level reporting for GHG reduction or removal projects)

1605 b

**Voluntary Carbon Standard 2007.1 (based on WRI and ISO 14064)

Voluntary Carbon Standard Registry System

**Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and Joint Implementation (mechanisms under the Kyoto protocol)

CDM Registry or Kyoto national registries

**CDM Gold Standard

Gold Standard Registry

**Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX) (individual performance standards for qualifying projects – including landfill methane reduction, energy efficiency and switching, renewables, forestry, and more)

CCX

**Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (for participating midwest states only – focus on power plants)

Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

**Climate Action Reserve(numerous project-specific protocols including forestry, landfill projects, and others)

Climate Action Reserve



Some protocols covering emissions relating to other inventories or emission sources include:

A few additional sources of reporting databases include:

Climate Action Planning for Government

Managing GHG emissions requires intensive planning and reduction efforts. Efforts vary for municipalities, state or federal governments, businesses, and individuals or households. Examples illustrating GHG reduction opportunities for government follow.

Local governments lead by example by implementing climate change and clean energy programs within their own buildings and operations. Local governments can achieve substantial GHG emission reductions and energy cost savings across their facilities, operations, fleets, and with city business and citizens, by:

  • Improving energy efficiency in government facilities
  • Integrating energy efficiency and renewable energy measures in green buildings
  • Procuring (and promoting) energy-efficient products and green power
  • Reducing methane releases from landfills
  • Using clean energy supply technologies
  • Reducing emissions from government fleets with such activities or policies as increasing fuel efficiency, purchasing hybrid vehicles, rightsizing vehicles, evaluating route efficiency, and implementing anti-idling policies
  • Building new transit and electric car infrastructure
  • Promoting modernization of the electricity grid (See Smart Grid 5 cities Leading the Way)
  • Promoting green building codes and building modernization
  • Promoting recycling and composting
  • Making pedestrian and bicycle improvements
  • Inspiring or incentivizing businesses and citizens to take action
    Example Programs & Resources

    The West Coast Climate and Materials Management Forum has developed a Materials Management and Climate Change Toolkit, which provides resources to integrate material conservation into a community GHG inventory and climate action planning. The Toolkit includes new approaches to GHG inventories that quantifies impacts from materials, model Climate Action Plans that include materials conservation, innovative policies that can reduce material consumption and increase recycling and composting, and example ordinances, standards, and policies to drive GHG reductions through materials management.

    The City of Seattle Climate Action Plan offers parallel programs and assistance for business and households. The city is working with homeowners, via trained carbon coach volunteers, and working with small businesses to calculate their carbon footprint and develop actions based on the footprint. They have developed an online tool for businesses and host educational events. The city has a Climate Action Toolkit with creative templates, how-to tools to implement similar campaigns, and information about other climate action campaigns and activities around the country.

    Albuquerque, NM, a member of CoolCities is developing a city Climate Action Plan aimed at reversing the trend of increased city emissions, with a goal to cut emissions by 19 percent before 2012.

    The City of Portland has an exemplary Green Fleet program.

    A helpful starting point is for cities to join ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability. Their Cities for Climate Protection Program is designed specifically for local governments to take action on climate change. ICLEI, including collaborative effort to produce a Climate Action Handbook which showcases climate protection policies, actions, tools, and best practices for towns and cities across the U.S.

    The EPA operates the Landfill Methane Outreach Program (LMOP), whose 2010 winning projects will avoid the emissions of 546,000 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) per year.

State governments have the opportunity to conduct or affect many of the aforementioned areas, but may have additional efforts in policy and programs arena. See a list of state activities here.

For both local and state governments, EPA has resources to help governments understand, plan, and implement strategies to reduce GHG emissions within their jurisdictions. The State and Local Climate and Energy Program bring together EPA resources to serve as a one-stop shop for government officials seeking information on climate change and clean energy.

Federal governments have the opportunity to conduct many of the aforementioned activities, within their own departments and/or by assisting states and cities, as well as businesses and individuals. With the federal government being the single largest U.S. energy consumer (spending more than $24.5 billion on electricity and fuel in 2008), President Barack Obama directed the federal government to reduce GHG emissions 28 percent by 2020 by using energy more efficiently and shifting to clean energy sources such as wind and geothermal power. Reducing and reporting GHG pollution, as called for in Executive Order 13514 on Federal Sustainability, will ensure that the federal government leads by example in building the clean energy economy. Examples of agency actions that are underway are available from the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

In addition, the federal government can use the annual, national-level GHG inventory (See 2009 U.S. Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report), which identifies and quantifies primary anthropogenic sources and sinks of greenhouse gases and major contributing sectors in the U.S., to target GHG reduction efforts.

Climate Action Planning for Businesses and Institutions

Businesses and institutions can determine their GHG inventory using protocols and calculators identified above, or if required by state or federal law or other policy, or even a customer, using the tools stipulated. Organizations can then use this information to set goals and strategize for reductions in GHG emissions.

    Examples

    The U.S. EPA’s Climate Leaders program is an EPA industry-government partnership that works with companies to develop comprehensive climate change strategies. Partner companies commit to reducing their global impact by completing a corporate-wide inventory of GHG emissions based on a quality management system, setting aggressive reduction goals, and annually reporting progress to EPA. Through program participation, companies create a credible record of their accomplishments and receive EPA recognition as corporate environmental leaders. See a list of case studies. For instance, at the corporate level, Xerox set climate change objectives to reduce total company-wide GHG emissions and help customers meet their printing needs with the most energy-efficient document management solutions. Specific goals of Xerox's plan are to reduce total GHGs by 25 percent from 2002 to 2012; obtain ENERGY STAR® rating for 90 percent or more of eligible new product launches by 2010; and, develop decision tools for customers to “green” their offices.

    Institutional level: See action plans from campuses at American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment - Overview & Examples of Climate Action Plans

Industry Partnerships, Programs & Resources

The following programs and resources are examples of activities and technical assistance available for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The Industrial Assessment Centers (IACs), sponsored by the Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy’s (EERE) Industrial Technologies Program, provide eligible small- and medium-sized manufacturers with no-cost energy assessments, resulting in recommendations to manufacturers to save energy and improve other operations.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Industrial Technologies Program (ITP) has a goal for the chemical industry, to achieve a 30 percent reduction in energy use, water use, and toxic and pollutant dispersion per unit of output by 2020. To achieve this goal, ITP Chemicals supports R&D projects that meet industry needs and help achieve national goals for energy and the environment. They have many resources, publications, and examples or guidance for reducing consumption of energy and steam. They also manage a voluntary program for industry, called LEADER Companies, and one current focus area is to analyze energy use in the chemical industry and identify the R&D priorities that provide this industry with the greatest energy savings.

The EPA’s High Global Warming Potential (GWP) Partnership has prioritized efforts to work with industry around the reduction of emissions from industries or industry processes that use and/or generate high GWP emissions, such as substitutes for ozone depleting substances, perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), iron and steel production, cement production, nitric acid production, lime production, ammonia production and urea consumption, and other processes such as aluminum and semi-conductor production. Current focus is on the sectors described in more detail below:

    1) Electric Power - The SF6 Emission Reduction Partnership for Electric Power Systems is a collaborative effort between EPA and the electric power industry to identify and implement cost-effective solutions to reduce sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) emissions. More than 80 utilities participate in this voluntary program. Opportunities for SF6 reductions include leak detection and repair, use of recycling equipment, and employee education/training.

    2) Aluminum - According to the U.S. DOE, the aluminum industry has reduced energy consumption in the past 40 years by 58 percent; however, the Aluminum Processing Energy Benchmark Report demonstrates that large energy savings opportunities still exist. In addition, perfluorocarbons (PFC), which are high GWP gases, are emitted during the electrolytic production cycle. In 2002, the U.S. primary aluminum industry’s PFC emissions were equal to 1.42 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2).

    The Voluntary Aluminum Industrial Partnership (VAIP) is an innovative pollution prevention program developed jointly by EPA and the primary aluminum industry. Participating companies (partners) work with EPA to improve energy efficiency and overall production efficiency, while reducing PFC emissions.

    Also see Guide to Energy Efficiency in Aluminum Smelters.

    3) Magnesium Production and Processing - SF6 has been widely used by the magnesium industry for more than 25 years, as a cover gas to protect molten metal from oxidation and potentially violent burning. The SF6 Emission Reduction Partnership for the Magnesium Industry is a cooperative effort to better understand and reduce SF6 emissions. Partners are progressing towards eliminating SF6 emissions by identifying, evaluating, and implementing cost-effective climate protection strategies and technologies including alternative cover gases.

    4) Semiconductors - The Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) is collaborating with EPA to measure, record, and reduce emissions of high GWP gases. The GHG emissions of primary concern are perfluorocarbons, trifluoromethane (CHF3), nitrogen trifluoride (NF3), and SF6. (Also see P2 Opportunities for Semiconductor Manufacturers.)

    The PFC Reduction/Climate Partnership for the Semiconductor Industry targets the reduction of PFC emissions by 2010 to 10 percent below the level of emissions in 1995. Currently, SIA members are working with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to update the PFC emission inventory process to better reflect methods underway to reduce PFC emissions. Current strategies include alternative chemistries; process optimization; recovery/recycle; and various forms of destruction or decomposition such as combustion, plasma dissociation, thermal chemical absorption, and catalytic conversion).

    5) Cement - The Cement Sustainability Initiative (CSI) developed the “Getting the Numbers Right” (GNR) system to accurately and reliably measure and report CO2 and energy performance in for CSI worldwide members. The CSI recognized that having accurate and detailed data would enable its members to identify the factors and levers that can impact those emissions, and use this information to develop practical climate mitigation strategies.

    6) Electricity Distribution – An estimated 27 percent of the world's energy is lost in electricity transmission and generation. Technology and utility/smart grid partnerships are in the works to update our electricity transmission systems. More at http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/top-ten-smart-grid-3605/.

Additional focused energy efforts supporting industry are:

Specific Focus Areas and Actions

While it would be impossible to include every strategy, opportunity, behavior change, or technology to reduce GHG emissions in everyday life and everyday activities, a snippet of examples and suggestions are provided below in a few different areas.

Transportation

Some of these opportunities can be implemented by transportation agencies and others can be implemented by industry (freight shippers, auto manufacturers, airlines, railroads, etc.) and/or the public, such as -

  • Use of alternative fuels that have a lower life cycle CO2 equivalent output than the same amount of fossil fuels (See E3Fleet’s Biodiesel Calculator)
  • Use of advanced technology vehicles and transportation systems
  • Surface transportation planning
  • Identify trip reduction opportunities (frequency and distance)
  • Implementation of a no-idling policy

Energy and Fuel

Energy efficiency and conservation is the most cost effective way of reducing GHG emissions. For example, McKinsey & Company's Unlocking Energy Efficiency in the U.S. Economy shows the U.S. industrial sector can reduce annual energy consumption 18 percent by 2020 and save more than $442 billion in energy costs with an upfront investment of $113 billion.

Many industrial facilities have succeeded in reducing their total energy consumption. As examples, view a list of the Industrial Technologies Program's (ITP) 2009 Award Recipients under the Save Energy Now, Energy Champion Plants, and Energy Savers. (Numerous resources are available within these programs to identify energy efficiency opportunities.) A few energy and fuel minimization opportunities include the following:

  • Buy energy- and/or fuel- efficient vehicles, appliances, motors, pumps, boilers, etc.
  • Improve efficiency of existing equipment such as boilers, air compressors, chillers, etc.
  • Reduce or eliminate business travel by utilizing webinars and video- or tele-conferencing.
  • Telecommute, and/or provide incentives to carpool, cycle, or use other alternative transportation.
  • Make and buy goods locally to reduce transport of goods.
  • Install on-site renewable power generation devices or purchase renewable power.
  • Implement energy-efficiency improvements in facilities.
  • While reducing carbon is a priority over offsetting, consider participating in an offset program such as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (serving northeast and mid-Atlantic states).

Land Use and Carbon Storage

  • Plant trees (and/or invest in reforestation or afforestation efforts).
  • Work on policy and opportunities to stop deforestation (e.g., See Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD), an emerging policy approach that seeks to mitigate carbon emissions from deforestation and conserve tropical biodiversity on a large scale)
  • Become involved in carbon sequestration research and development. The U.S. DOE has created a network of seven Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships (RCSPs) to help develop the technology, infrastructure, and regulations to implement large-scale CO2 sequestration in different regions and geologic formations within the U.S. (Notes: There are a few major sequestration projects in Norway, one in Algeria, one in Canada, other pilot projects around the world, and the first operating project in the U.S. at the Ohio-based Philip Sporn Plant). Reportedly, Not in My Back Yard (NIMBY) syndrome is occurring with some carbon sequestration planning efforts.
  • In agriculture and landscaping:
    • Use no-till, conservation agriculture to help soil retain carbon.
    • Reduce use of fertilizers (especially nitrogen-based), with nutrient management planning, timing and placement analysis for fertilizer applications, incorporating manure, crediting nutrient inputs from prior year amendments or legumes, planting high nutrient species or cover crops, and more (See Greenhouse Gas Mitigation in Forest and Agricultural Lands: Reducing Emissions.)
    • Find alternatives to burning of agricultural residue.
    • Create low-impact landscapes that do not require fertilizer.

Consumption and Waste

  • Buy less (or do without altogether); buy reused; buy recycled content.
  • Buy minimally packaged goods.
  • Buy in bulk and/or concentrate.
  • Use less hot water in industry and in homes.
  • Drive less.
  • Compost as much as possible; composting organic wastes produces less GHG emissions than landfilling.
  • Recycle as much as possible; recycling uses less energy and raw material to create new products.

 

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