Levying a price on carbon dioxide released by electric generators could considerably reduce greenhouse gas emissions -- even before the deployment of any environmentally friendly technology -- according to scientists in Pennsylvania.
In the study, Jay Apt and colleagues explain that placing a price on greenhouse gas emissions has gained favor as a way to encourage utility investment in alternative technology, such as capturing carbon dioxide from smokestacks before its release into the atmosphere. They estimate a price of $35 per metric ton on generators' CO2 emissions would decrease consumer demand for electricity. As a result, utilities would burn less fuel, release less carbon dioxide and cause emissions to fall by as much as 10 percent.
The study concluded that two of the nation's largest electric generation and transmission systems are likely to see large CO2 reductions even with a modest price on emissions. "A price on carbon dioxide emissions that has been shown in earlier work to stimulate investment in new generation technology also provides significant CO2 reductions before new technology is deployed at large scale," the report says.
The article "Short Run Effects of a Price on Carbon Dioxide Emissions from U.S. Electric Generators" is scheduled for the May 1 issue of ACS' Environmental Science & Technology.
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