The US has announced massive plans to cut the amount of carbon pollution produced from power plants over the next sixteen years – which could save billions of dollars and create thousands of jobs.
Power plants the country will have until 2030 to cut their carbon emissions by 30%, based on 2005 levels.
The move is a bold step to try and reduce the amount of carbon pollution across the country but power plants alone should not be a single focus for reducing carbon pollution.
The US government says that cutting the carbon pollution levels will also avoid up to 6,600 premature deaths, 150,000 asthma attacks in children and almost half a million missed work or school days.
It estimates that it will provide up to $93bn in climate and public health benefits as well as shrinking electricity bills by eight percent.
The proposals, which have been announced by President Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), are split into two parts.
Firstly, there will be state-specific emission rate-based CO2 goals. Secondly, there will be the introduction of guidelines for the submission, development and implementation of the state plans.
The EPA says that electricity accounts for 32% of greenhouse gas emissions. The other largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions come from transportations (28%), industry (20%), commercial and residential (10%) and agriculture (10%).
However, transport and commercial carbon pollution, when combined, are almost as damaging to the environment as the generation of electricity. To address this, here are seven technologies that could cut down on carbon emissions in our cities.
Farming animals or crops within a skyscraper greenhouse, or vertically inclined surfaces in cities will help to reduce the amount of food products that need to be transported from rural farms to our large urban areas.
This will reduce the amount of carbon produced by large delivery trucks travelling across the country.
Using artificial lighting and natural light-growing crops in our cities will help the sustainability of our cities as well as natural landscapes.
Hyperloop for travel
Elon Musk’s plans for the Hyperloop, a train system without rails that is powered from solar panels, could significantly reduce the amount of carbon pollution produced from urban transport systems such as the New York subway or the London Underground.
The idea is still very firmly in the development stage, but could become a transport staple within decades.
Adopt 3D printers
The 3D printing revolution for consumers is only just beginning to take off, and as more of us buy printers, which are coming down in price, we will need to visit the shops less often.
The ability to print our own items without leaving the house will enable carbon emissions to be reduced from the amount of travelling needed to buy and manufacture the products.
Google’s recently announced testing of self-driving cars could seriously help to cut down on carbon emissions from cars.
Not only are the cars electric, but they will also cut down on reckless and fuel-inefficient driving.
Get rid of DVDs
A recent study by scientists showed that there could be a massive cut in carbon pollution if streaming services such as Netflix were used instead of DVDs. A large proportion of the carbon that could be saved would come from people stopping from driving to the shops to pick up the latest release.
Cut down on packaging
Almost 35% of plastic made each year is used for packaging. If large manufacturers can use 3D printing and other technologies to cut down on the amount of plastic needed to get products into our homes, then we could easily cut down on the amount of carbon pollution produced by making plastic.
Capturing waste heat
It may not be a direct way to cut carbon emissions, but if we can capture waste heat from large buildings using thermoelectric generators, it can be put back into the grid and reduce the amount of electricity that we need to generate by using power plants in the first place.
Some work needs to be done to get this technology into our buildings, but as it’s proven it shouldn’t take long to make this innovation a reality.