Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Various federal programs and international agreements, as well as policy options that Congress may consider in the future, are in place to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Federal programs are generally designed to promote emissions reductions technologies in the energy and transportation sectors.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the primary sources of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by economic sector in 2010 were electricity production (34 percent), transportation (27 percent), and industry (21 percent). The remaining 18 percent of 2010 U.S. greenhouse gas emissions were contributed by the agriculture, commercial, and residential sectors. A number of programs aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions have been proposed or enacted in the United States and other developed countries, including:
- carbon taxes,
- cap-and-trade programs,
- carbon offsets,
- energy efficiency standards,
- financial incentives (e.g., subsidies or tax credits),
- voluntary agreements,
- education campaigns, and
- research, development and deployment of advanced technologies.
Table 1 shows options for addressing climate change.
Table 1: Selected Policies, Measures, and Instruments Used by Various Nations to Reduce Emissions and Address Climate Change, as of 2008
In addition, technologies such as carbon capture and storage and biofuels production have the potential to supplement policies designed to reduce emissions. Carbon capture and storage involves separating and storing carbon dioxide from an industrial or energy-related source, and preventing the release of carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere. The figure below illustrates potential technologies for capturing and storing carbon dioxide emissions.
Figure 1: CO2 Capture, Transport, and Storage in Geologic Formations
GAO-11-345: Published: Feb 15, 2011. Publicly Released: Mar 17, 2011.
GAO-10-675: Published: Jun 16, 2010. Publicly Released: Jul 16, 2010.
GAO-09-554: Published: Jun 8, 2009. Publicly Released: Jun 8, 2009.
GAO-09-151: Published: Nov 18, 2008. Publicly Released: Dec 2, 2008.
GAO-08-1080: Published: Sep 30, 2008. Publicly Released: Sep 30, 2008.
GAO-08-605: Published: May 9, 2008. Publicly Released: Jun 9, 2008.
GAO-12-545R: Published: Apr 18, 2012. Publicly Released: May 18, 2012.
GAO-10-818: Published: Jul 30, 2010. Publicly Released: Aug 5, 2010.
GAO-10-377: Published: Feb 24, 2010. Publicly Released: Mar 26, 2010.
GAO-09-950T: Published: Aug 4, 2009. Publicly Released: Aug 4, 2009.