A Greener 2008?
The best resolution for energy efficiency: We need to do more.
I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions, because those promises tend not to last long. I prefer to make resolutions to better myself throughout the year, and then strive to live up to them. But the new year is a time not only to look ahead, but to reflect on the previous 12 months.
In terms of being green, 2007 was definitely a mixed bag. Green became not just an environmental movement, but went mainstream. There was even a “Green Week” on NBC. But in the great corporate rush to be green, we were also introduced to greenwashing—which is the marketing version of an empty New Year’s resolution—and we even became “green fatigued.”
The United States, a world leader in greenhouse gas emissions, took some steps toward being greener. U.S. representatives at the recent climate conference in Bali were jeered for resisting greenhouse emissions reductions before agreeing to revisit the issue and work toward a global pact in 2009. A small step indeed. And the U.S. government enacted the Energy Independence and Security Act in the weeks before the year ended. Depending on how you look at it, this new law is either sweeping in its changes or a mere baby step or two in the right direction.
The new regulations in the Energy Act are both monumental and, it can be said, severely lacking. The automobile mileage standards are the first enacted since the 1970s, and naturally this gets most of the press coverage. But we should remember that more than 40 percent of all carbon dioxide emissions comes from electrical plants, while all of transportation—including jet and shipping fuel—accounts for about 27 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions. “The average home uses more energy and is responsible than more greenhouse emissions than your car,” reminds Lowell Ungar, director of policy at the Alliance to Save Energy.
The new Energy Act does address some home energy issues , including the planned phase-out of inefficient incandescent light bulbs starting in 2012, requirements for more efficient external power supplies like those used with laptop computers, and the labeling of energy consumption for TVs, set-top boxes and other electronics.
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