Reducing Emissions from the Electric Power Generation

Burning coal, oil and gas to produce electricity releases greenhouse gases (GHG) that contribute to climate change. In fact, electricity generation is responsible for roughly one-third of total (gross) GHG emissions in the United States and more than 20 percent of GHG emissions globally.

Coal plays a major role in meeting the world’s demand for electricity, particularly in jurisdictions such as the U.S., China and Eastern Europe that have access to significant coal resources. However, it is also the power sector fuel that plays the most significant role in global climate change. Coal accounts for more than 45 percent of global emissions from electricity generation and more than 80 percent of power sector emissions in the United States.

Because of its low cost and high abundance, worldwide demand for coal is projected to rise by about 60 percent through 2030. Left uncontrolled, new coal power plants will greatly increase GHG emissions, making national and international emission reduction targets even harder to meet.

Carbon capture and sequestration technology shows great promise for reducing emissions from new coal plants but is unproven on a commercial scale and expensive to deploy. A cap-and-trade system or a carbon tax, along with technology standards and incentives, can drive greater deployment of advanced coal technologies to reduce worldwide carbon emissions. These same policy instruments can also encourage increased use of zero-emitting electric power technologies such as energy efficiency, renewable energy and nuclear power.

What CCAP is Doing with Electricity

Through its research, analysis and stakeholder dialogues, CCAP is advancing the policy debate globally on how to reduce emissions from electricity generation, while also meeting growing power demand.