How much CO2 does your local power plant emit?
Anyone interested in understanding how much carbon dioxide pollution is being emitted by the world's power plants has a terrific new resource to turn to: the Carbon Monitoring for Action database, or CARMA.
A project of the Confronting Climate Change Initiative at the Center for Global Development, an independent and nonpartisan think tank located in Washington, D.C., CARMA offers details about carbon emissions for power facilities around the world, whether they're fueled by coal, nuclear or renewable resources.
CARMA includes data on more than 50,000 power plants, 4,000 power companies, and nearly 200,000 geographic regions in every country on Earth. Users can view carbon emissions data for the present, the year 2000, and future plans. CARMA's data will be updated quarterly to reflect changes in plant ownership and planned construction. The data shows that the United States is the world leader in terms of carbon emissions from electrical production, emitting 2.79 billion tons, followed by China at 2.66 billion tons and Russia a distant third at 661 million tons.
The database offers eye-opening information about carbon emissions from power plants in the 13-state region we consider the South (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia). The region has a total of 1,624 power plants, less than 20 percent of the nation's total of 9,190 plants. But the South's facilities this year alone will pump out about 1.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide -- 43 percent of the nation's total emissions of about 2.8 billion tons. In other words, dirty power plants are disproportionately located in the South.
Of the 13 Southern states, the leader by far in the total number of power plants, "red alert" plants producing more than 1,750 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour, and total CO2 tonnage is Texas. The Lone Star State has 335 power plants, 81 "red alert" plants, and total CO2 emissions of 290 million tons for this year alone. Florida and Georgia tie for second in the number of "red alerts," with 52 each. And Kentucky leads the region in terms of its plants' "intensity," a measure of pounds of CO2 emitted per megawatt-hour of electricity produced.
The following chart is based on data drawn from the CARMA database:
Sue is the editorial director of Facing South and the Institute for Southern Studies.