Canada, China, Germany Struggle to Reduce GHG Emissions

by | May 1, 2009

globeAlthough many countries are setting carbon reduction targets, many of them are still struggling with ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions — much of it from coal power plants — that contribute to global warming.

Canada, for example, has one of the fastest growth rates of greenhouse gases in the world, and a record that is far worse than in the United States, which Environment Canada attributes to large increases in oil and gas production, reports The Globe and Mail.

Environment Canada said carbon dioxide emissions rose to 747 million tons in 2007, up by 4 percent from 718 million tons the year before, and up 26 percent above their 1990 level, violating the Kyoto Protocol to cut emissions by 6 percent, according to The Globe and Mail. The federal government blamed a cold winter which increased the use of coal-fired power stations and petroleum extraction activities.

This may become a trade issue between the United States and Canada. The National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy said that Canada faces possible trade retaliation from the United States if it doesn’t agree to a similar U.S. cap-and-trade program.

In Germany and the UK, coal-powered plants are a similar challenge in terms of reducing carbon emissions. Coal is expected to remain the key source of Germany’s electricity if it phases out nuclear power as planned and continues to reduce its reliance on Russian gas, reports Reuters.

The coal lobby believes it can appease environmental concerns about carbon dioxide emissions from the coal plants by implementing carbon capture and storage (CCS), reports Reuters. According to the news agency, Germany’s cabinet recently approved a CCS draft law that opens the door to developing the technology that will cut coal plant pollution and bury CO2 underground.

Britain also recently announced plans to force all new coal plants in the country to test the CCS technology. The government also wants to replace the country’s old state-built reactors with privately-built plants to help limit carbon emissions and cut its reliance on fossil foils, reports Reuters. Three of Europe’s biggest utilities recently bought land to build nuclear power plants in England and Wales.

China, the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitter, is also struggling with developing a plan to curb rising carbon dioxide emissions, primarily from coal-fired power stations. A study from Britain’s Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research indicates that China can become a “low-carbon economy” with the right mix of clean energy, carbon storage technology and development policies, reports Reuters.

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