Thursday, March 20, 2008

2008 Energy Use Forecast: A Challenge for Conservation

The U.S. will be sucking down 19% more energy by 2030, says the Energy Information Administration in its 2008 energy outlook, delivered to Congress recently. This estimate is bad news because it takes into account the new higher mpg standards for cars; more efficient appliances and lighting and other such mandated improvements, as well as use of biofuels. The even worse news is that our emissions of carbon dioxide also will be rising at an average annual rate of .6%, which adds up to an unfathomable 6,859 metric tons of CO2.

The culprits for the increase in global warming CO2 are continued reliance on coal-fired power plants for electricity and use of more petroleum for transportation.

But there's good news here, too. Electricity growth is slowing down. And, if we can retire the dirtiest coal plants, switch to cleaner fuel and ramp up our conservation efforts, we could make headway. Similarly, the report says that the new mpg standards will be outweighted by more travel. So we both need to raise the mpg standards more and use other strategies--like congestion-based pricing--to get folks out of their cars and on mass transit.

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