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How the Government Can Go Green

In order to meet the world’s increasing demand for energy without further damaging the world’s climate and environment, specifically preventing carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere, governments need to:

  • Improve energy efficiency. Reducing the amount of energy people use is an essential part of reducing greenhouse gas emissions — solutions can range from sealing energy leaks in homes to driving more fuel-efficient vehicles.

  • Stop forest loss. Nurturing carbon dioxide–eating plants is a major way to reduce the effect of carbon emissions. Trees take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere as part of the photosynthesis process.

  • Accelerate the development of low-emissions technologies. Practical (as in, available and reasonably priced) alternative energy sources such as wind, hydro (water), biomass (fuel from natural material such as crops and agricultural waste), and solar power are considered renewable. Humans can’t use up the wind and the sun, for example, in the same way they can use up fossil fuels. Alternative energy sources also have the benefit of producing little to no greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time, technologies need to be researched and implemented to reduce emissions from existing energy sources.

  • Develop flexible fuels. Flexible fuels such as hydrogen fuel cell technology would allow the effective and efficient storage of energy from intermittent sources such as the sun and wind so that the energy could be used as and when needed.

  • Replace high-carbon coal with low-carbon gas. Although natural gas gives off carbon dioxide emissions when it’s burned, the emissions are much lower than those given off by coal. Switching power plants, for example, from coal-burning to gas-burning can significantly reduce emissions.

  • Equip fossil fuel plants with carbon capture and storage technology. Carbon capture technology takes the carbon that results from burning fossil fuels and stores it where it can’t be released into the atmosphere (underground, for example). Although it doesn’t exactly reduce emissions, carbon capture technology does prevent emissions from reaching the atmosphere.

Most industrialized countries are now focusing on reducing or eliminating waste by educating residents and businesses about how to decrease the amount of waste they’re responsible for, how to reuse as much as possible, how to recycle what can’t be reused, and how to turn household and garden waste into compost.