New York: Southern Co.’s coal-fired Scherer power plant in Georgia emits more carbon dioxide in a year than the entire power sector of Brazil, according to a new emissions database.
The 3,300MW Scherer facility is the largest US coal plant and also the one with the most carbon dioxide emissions, according to data compiled by the Center for Global Development, a policy and research organization based in Washington. It generates 25.3 million tonnes (mt) of the gas annually, against 24mt emitted by all of Brazil’s power plants.
The database shows that the 100 largest emitting companies produce 57% of the world’s power sector emissions, David Wheeler, senior fellow at the centre, said in an interview. “That is a critical group” and “offers some possibilities for strategic decision-making.”
India’s NTPC Ltd is in that group, ranked third with carbon dioxide emissions of 182mt. A senior NTPC executive, who did not wish to be identified, said, “It is very easy to blame us. We have a total power generation capacity of 27,404MW, of which 80% is coal-based. We have an annual coal requirement of 115mt per annum and are the largest consumer of coal in the country. Hence, the higher pollution levels.”
UN members will meet next month in Bali to discuss how to proceed with international emissions limits after 2012, when Kyoto Protocol targets expire. Kyoto is an international treaty that set emissions targets for industrialized nations.
Assuming there will be some sort of global regulation of carbon dioxide emissions after 2012, “you have to know the emissions from all the sectors,” Wheeler said.
With this database, known as Carbon Monitoring for Action, “you have a template there that can be used for some form of global regulation,” Wheeler said. “We offer this as a model, saying however this conversation evolves, doing something like this will be necessary.”
Wheeler also said the data shows greenhouse-gas emissions reduction is not just a matter for the US and Europe to take on, given the rapid growth in nations such as China and India. Four of the five largest carbon dioxide emitters in the list of power companies are either in China or India.
There are at least 10 legislative proposals in the US Congress to limit emissions of carbon dioxide, a contributor to global warming. The US has the world’s largest annual emissions from its power sector, at 2.8 billion tonnes. China follows with 2.7 billion, according to the database.
US President George W. Bush has rejected the Kyoto Protocol, with the administration favouring “bottom up” commitments that can be enforced by individual countries.
Utpal Bhaskar of Mint contributed to this story.