Top U.S. cities for energy efficiency
The 2013 City Energy Efficiency Scorecard, a report released by American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), ranks 34 of the most populous U.S. cities on policies to advance energy efficiency. The report includes recommendations and strategies for all cities to lower energy use. ACEEE also launched a new interactive infographic accompanying the report that highlights each city’s best practices and scores.
Boston took top honors, doing the most to save energy. Other top-scoring cities include Portland, Ore., New York City, San Francisco, Seattle and Austin. The next tier of top-scoring cities (Washington, D.C., Minneapolis, Chicago, Philadelphia and Denver) have also developed efficiency initiatives and are poised to rise in the rankings in future years.
The report is the first to rank cities exclusively on energy efficiency efforts. Cities are evaluated on what actions they are taking to reduce energy use in five key areas: buildings; transportation; energy and water utility efforts; local government operations; and community-wide initiatives.
- Local leadership and commitment to energy efficiency is strong. With great influence over energy use in their communities, city leaders can implement initiatives that provide benefits where they are most tangible to citizens and businesses, directly improving the community.
- Boston achieved the highest score overall, but other cities led in some policy areas. Portland scored highest in transportation and local government operations. Seattle ranked first in building policies. San Francisco tied with Boston for first in utility public benefits programs, and Austin is the city furthest ahead of its state on energy efficiency policy.
- All cities, even the highest scorers, have significant room for improvement. Boston, the highest scoring city, missed nearly a quarter of possible points. Only 11 cities scored more than half of the possible points. All cities can improve their efficiency initiatives to increase their scores, and several recommendations are offered in the report.
Key recommendations for cities:
- Lead by example by improving efficiency in local government operations and facilities.
- Adopt energy savings goals.
- Actively manage energy use, track and communicate progress toward goals, and enable access to data on energy usage.
- Adopt policies to improve efficiency in new and existing buildings.
- Partner with energy and water utilities to promote and expand energy efficiency programs.
- Adopt policies and programs to lower transportation energy use through location-efficient development and improved access to additional travel mode choices.
Check out more stories on energy efficiency:
“We couldn’t be more proud of our progress in creating a greener, healthier city,” said Mayor Thomas M. Menino. “Boston is a world-class city, and we know that our economic prosperity is tied to its ‘greenovation,’ which has helped create jobs and improve our bottom-line. Reducing our energy use is just one smart step in improving the quality of life in Boston and around the world.”
“The good news is that cities across the country are saving money, creating local jobs, and protecting the environment by implementing energy efficiency measures,” said Steven Nadel, ACEEE’s executive director.
“Our report shows that cities are laboratories of innovation for energy-saving solutions that directly benefit people where they live, work and play,” said Eric Mackres, ACEEE’s local policy manager and the report’s lead author. “Local governments have great influence over energy use in their communities and many have initiatives that result in significant energy and cost savings.”
To read the complete report and view the infographic, visit: http://aceee.org/local-policy/city-scorecard.
Carbon dioxide removal revenues worth £2bn a year by 2030
Carbon dioxide removal revenues could reach £2bn a year by 2030 in the UK with costs per megatonne totalling up to £400 million, according to the National Infrastructure Commission.
Engineered greenhouse gas removals will become "a major new infrastructure sector" in the coming decades - although costs are uncertain given removal technologies are in their infancy - and revenues could match that of the UK’s water sector by 2050. The Commission’s analysis suggests engineered removals technologies need to have capacity to remove five to ten megatonnes of carbon dioxide no later than 2030, and between 40 and 100 megatonnes by 2050.
The Commission states technologies fit into two categories: extracting carbon dioxide directly out of the air; and bioenergy with carbon capture technology – processing biomass to recapture carbon dioxide absorbed as the fuel grew. In both cases, the captured CO2 is then stored permanently out of the atmosphere, typically under the seabed.
The report sets out how the engineered removal and storage of carbon dioxide offers the most realistic way to mitigate the final slice of emissions expected to remain by the 2040s from sources that don’t currently have a decarbonisation solution, like aviation and agriculture.
It stresses that the potential of these technologies is “not an excuse to delay necessary action elsewhere” and cannot replace efforts to reduce emissions from sectors like road transport or power, where removals would be a more expensive alternative.
The critical role these technologies will play in meeting climate targets means government must rapidly kick start the sector so that it becomes viable by the 2030s, according to the report, which was commissioned by government in November 2020.
Early movement by the UK to develop the expertise and capacity in greenhouse gas removal technologies could create a comparative advantage, with the prospect of other countries needing to procure the knowledge and skills the UK develops.
The Commission recommends that government should support the development of this new sector in the short term with policies that drive delivery of these technologies and create demand through obligations on polluting industries, which will over time enable a competitive market to develop. Robust independent regulation must also be put in place from the start to help build public and investor confidence.
While the burden of these costs could be shared by different parts of industries required to pay for removals or in part shared with government, the report acknowledges that, over the longer term, the aim should be to have polluting sectors pay for removals they need to reach carbon targets.
Polluting industries are likely to pass a proportion of the costs onto consumers. While those with bigger household expenditures will pay more than those on lower incomes, the report underlines that government will need to identify ways of protecting vulnerable consumers and to decide where in relevant industry supply chains the costs should fall.
Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, Sir John Armitt, said taking steps to clean our air is something we’re going to have to get used to, just as we already manage our wastewater and household refuse.
"While engineered removals will not be everyone’s favourite device in the toolkit, they are there for the hardest jobs. And in the overall project of mitigating our impact on the planet for the sake of generations to come, we need every tool we can find," he said.
“But to get close to having the sector operating where and when we need it to, the government needs to get ahead of the game now. The adaptive approach to market building we recommend will create the best environment for emerging technologies to develop quickly and show their worth, avoiding the need for government to pick winners. We know from the dramatic fall in the cost of renewables that this approach works and we must apply the lessons learned to this novel, but necessary, technology.”
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and International Energy Agency estimate a global capacity for engineered removals of 2,000 to 16,000 megatonnes of carbon dioxide each year by 2050 will be needed in order to meet global reduction targets.
Yesterday Summit Carbon Solutions received "a strategic investment" from John Deere to advance a major CCUS project (click here). The project will accelerate decarbonisation efforts across the agriculture industry by enabling the production of low carbon ethanol, resulting in the production of more sustainable food, feed, and fuel. Summit Carbon Solutions has partnered with 31 biorefineries across the Midwest United States to capture and permanently sequester their CO2 emissions.
Cory Reed, President, Agriculture & Turf Division of John Deere, said: "Carbon neutral ethanol would have a positive impact on the environment and bolster the long-term sustainability of the agriculture industry. The work Summit Carbon Solutions is doing will be critical in delivering on these goals."
McKinsey highlights a number of CCUS methods which can drive CO2 to net zero:
- Today’s leader: Enhanced oil recovery Among CO2 uses by industry, enhanced oil recovery leads the field. It accounts for around 90 percent of all CO2 usage today
- Cementing in CO2 for the ages New processes could lock up CO2 permanently in concrete, “storing” CO2 in buildings, sidewalks, or anywhere else concrete is used
- Carbon neutral fuel for jets Technically, CO2 could be used to create virtually any type of fuel. Through a chemical reaction, CO2 captured from industry can be combined with hydrogen to create synthetic gasoline, jet fuel, and diesel
- Capturing CO2 from ambient air - anywhere Direct air capture (DAC) could push CO2 emissions into negative territory in a big way
- The biomass-energy cycle: CO2 neutral or even negative Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage relies on nature to remove CO2 from the atmosphere for use elsewhere