US federal government begins to tackle energy efficiency

usa.jpgIn the past week two events showed that the USA begin to tackle climate change in a serious way. This is really good news.

To do so, the US federal government enacted two laws that will increase the energy efficiency of vehicles and light bulbs and lead to huge savings of greenhouse gases emissions.

Both events occur a few days after the end of the Bali IPCC’s conference of parties that was due to prepare the future of climate change mitigation.First law, the US federal government passed a law that will increase the energy efficiency of vehicles by 40 percent by 2020.

According to Notre-Planè [Fr], the mileage is due to reach 6.75 litres per 100 km by 2020 (35 miles per gallon) . It is worth noting than in France,the average mileage in 2004 was of 7.2 litres.

The Environment Protection Agency (EPA), the official environment body, enacted a law that will increase the energy efficiency of vehicles by 40 percent by 2020.

This is really good news but to the Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, this law is going too slowly and demanded a waiver :

Governor Schwarzenegger today issued the following statement after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), after nearly two years of delay, rejected California’s request to regulate tailpipe emissions from passenger cars and light trucks.

Over the past year, the Governor has lobbied the federal government, meeting and sending letters to both President Bush and USEPA Administrator Johnson.

Last month, the Governor announced California’s lawsuit against the agency for failing to act. Today, he vowed to appeal the decision and pursue every legal opportunity to obtain the waiver.

“While the federal energy bill is a good step toward reducing dependence on foreign oil, the President’s approval of it does not constitute grounds for denying our waiver.

The energy bill does not reflect a vision, beyond 2020, to address climate change, while California’s vehicle greenhouse gas standards are part of a carefully designed, comprehensive program to fight climate change through 2050,” said Governor Schwarzenegger.

According to the International Herald Tribune this will

“save 1.1 million barrels of oil a day and save consumers $700 (€487) to $1,000 (€695) a year in fuel costs, according to an analysis by the Union of Concerned Scientists, an advocacy group, that was widely cited during congressional debate on the bill.”

Furthermore, a few days later, the US government planned to ban incandescent light bulbs by 2014. This will decrease in an important way CO2 emissions as estimations from the same article of the IHT talk about

(…) an electricity saving equal to shutting down 24 coal-burning power plants, and saving consumers $6 billion (€4.17 billion) for electricity (…)

All this bring me hope as mentalities are changing and that even the United States federal government is working on energy efficiency. Some might say that the progresses are too slow, but it is still much better than we could have imagined a few months ago.

I believe it is only the beginning and that further laws will be enacted and will decrease even more greenhouse gases emissions worldwide.

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