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An Overview of Federal Climate Policies and Technologies in the United States

  • 16 Pages
  • Published On: 23-11-2023

Executive Summary

In the United States of America, citizens are taking action to address the grave challenge of climate change, and to foster a sustainable and prosperous clean energy for future. These efforts are being undertaken at all levels of the US government, in the private sector, as well as everyday decisions by individual citizens. Major focus is on policies aimed at reducing the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere so as to minimize the increase in the overall temperature of the planet and the resulting effects. Federal climate policy was enacted as set of actions by the US federal government to address and mitigate these effects of climate change. The policies are geared towards promoting technologies that can mitigate carbon dioxide emission into the US atmosphere. Two major technologies that have been promoted include the Bio-energy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) technology that entails conversion of the organic material that is converted into electricity, heat, or even gas fuels depicted as the ‘bioenergy step, and the other technology is capture of carbon emissions from bioenergy conversion then stored in geological formations or embedded in a long-lasting material making the technology a negative emissions technology.

Direct Air Capture (DAC) technologies made up of a process of chemical that scrubs carbon dioxide directly from the ambient air, and then stored either as long-live products or underground facilities. These technologies have the potential to remove excess carbon directly from the atmosphere instead of capturing it from sources like industrial facilities or power plants. The two technologies depict disparities arising from the functional process, where BECCS depend on bioenergy crops, then it could derange production of food or even destabilize the natural ecosystem DAC, on the other hand, is a straight forward measure but quite expensive to maintain. Both technologies have not been fully sponsored by the US climate change policy as they are utilized by private entities, for full effect across the United States of America depicting more likelihood of effecting substantial change in the efforts to combat carbon dioxide effect in the atmosphere. However, the sustenance of both the technologies are quite expensive as DAC requires ninety-four to two-hundred and thirty-two US dollars for every metric ton, for it to be powered by low or zero -carbon energy sources so as to result in net carbon removal.

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Introduction

Application of emitted carbon dioxide is attaining attention in the context of climate change mitigation. The use of Carbon dioxide is alluring and straightforward, where instead of organizations paying to dispose large amounts of caron dioxide and other waste, they could be paid to capture and use it while they mitigate negative effect of climate change and avoid penalties associated with it. Throughout the United States of America, netizens are taking action to address the grave challenge of climate change, and to foster a sustainable and prosperous clean energy for future. In a report by Palminteri (2017) on ‘Effective Climate Change Action Needs Technology and Policy’ these efforts are being undertaken at all levels of the US government, in the private sector, as well as everyday decisions by individual citizens. According to the US Climate Action Report of 2010, it provides the major actions the country has taken as well as assisting other countries in addressing climate change.

In the United States of America, Cullenward (2013) argue that focus has been shifted towards policies aimed at reducing the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere so as to minimize the increase in the overall temperature of the planet and the resulting effects. Federal climate policy was enacted as set of actions by the US federal government to address and mitigate these effects of climate change. For example, the Act of 2009 known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), the country through the federal government allocated funds totaling to ninety billion US dollars to invest in clean energy technologies to develop green jobs, accelerate the transformation to a clean, diverse and energy-independent economy, as well as assist in combating climate change. In another example, in of September 2009, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its plans to collect greenhouse gases (GHS) emission estimated from facilities responsible for about eighty-two-point five percent of the GHS emissions across a disparate quarter of the economy, as well as manufacture and power generation.

According to Ramalingam et al. (2016), US-based organizations have invested in technologies capable of removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere at a large scale, but have called for significant and sustainable policy investments in continued technology development, enabling infrastructure as well as the markets, not leaving out scientific comprehension of net climate benefits and ancillary consequences. For example, the OLX Low Carbon Ventures organization was developed to mimic the natural carbon cycle to pull carbon dioxide from the atmosphere at an industrial scale. Secondly, the US-based organization, specifically, Sierra Energy is turning waste material into energy by use of technology capable of converting trash into energy that has no pollutants, landfills, hazardous waste in the most safe and responsible manner. Therefore, the focus is to construct and analyze by comparing two technologies applied in the US to combat the effect of climate change affected by excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, in seeking comprehensive standard perspectives of US policies developed to mitigate climate change and conceptual framework of innovation theories.

Main Body

Since the Industrial Revolution, the human species is responsible for over two thousand Gigatones; that is a billion metric tons of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The thickening blanket of the greenhouse gases has been the leading cause of global warming leading to frequent forest fires, rising of sea levels, stifling heat waves that keep on intensifying according to Bennett et al. (2014). However, there are measurable efforts to combat climate change, to keep the world temperatures lower than 1.5-2°C that scientist have argued that is vital to prevent further effects of climate change. Several of the climate model scenarios have been proposed that there is need to remove billions of metric tons of carbon dioxide on a yearly basis by the year 2050, at the same time heightening efforts to reduce emissions.

There are several innovations being created on a daily basis across the globe, some developed at national and others at global levels all geared towards adjusting the manner in which society functions and another to be done away with has been subject to studies and analysis with experts drawing varying models and creating overlapping concepts as to the cause of successful diffusion of innovation. Cullenward (2013) points out that there are various methods that are being employed to mitigate climate change due to carbon dioxide emissions. Considering two technological innovations; bio-energy with carbon capture (BECC) and direct air capture (DAC), they possess relative advantages of how greater or lesser the benefits of the technological innovation fits with the US federal policy on climate change on reduction or mitigation of carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere could be mitigated according to Correia (n.d). How well these technological innovations fit with the potential adopter’s existing workflow or process is its compatibility. On the other side, the harder the technological innovation to learn and implement seems to be, the less likely it will be adopted or effected to meet the objectives.

Bio-energy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) Technology

This technique of carbon removal and storage from the atmosphere applies two technologies, these are; biomass conversion of the organic material that is converted into electricity, heat, or even gas fuels depicted as the ‘bioenergy step, and the other technology is capture of carbon emissions from bioenergy conversion then stored in geological formations or embedded in a long-lasting material making the technology a negative emissions technology. The technology has been identified to be applied in the US specifically in Illinois Industrial CCS Company depicting potential range of negative emissions from BECCS ranging between zero and twenty-two billion metric tons as suggested by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The facility alone has been identified to capture one metric ton per year of carbon dioxide, and converting it into ethanol from corn, and the gas is store in a dedicated geological storage site deep underneath the facility as studied by Vergragt et al. (2011). Other facilities and organization in the US that have adopted the BECCS technology include the Kansas Arkalon, Bonanza CCS, Farnsworth capturing two hundred thousand tons per year, a hundred thousand tons per year and six hundred thousand tons per year consecutively.

Direct Carbon Capture

Efforts to mitigate climate change affected by carbon dioxide emissions has also resulted to more innovations to curb the effects. In this case, according to Realmonte et al. (2019), carbon capture has been sponsored by Direct Air Capture (DAC) technologies made up of a process of chemical that scrubs carbon dioxide directly from the ambient air, and then stored either as long-live products or underground facilities. These technologies have the potential to remove excess carbon directly from the atmosphere instead of capturing it from sources like industrial facilities or power plants.

DAC frameworks utilize low-carbon energy to eliminate carbon from the climate with fans and channels as studied by International Energy Agency (2012). In spite of the fact that the idea is moderately straightforward, really eliminating and refining a gas that alone makes up 0.04 percent of our air has been tested, as Keith et al. (2018) describe this cycle that begins with catching CO2 from the environment by means of Direct Air Capture (DAC) or modern sources. The CO2 is then infused into a delivering oil and gas repository. The CO2 dislodges oil and gas caught in the stone and pushes it toward a creating oil and gas well, while forever catching the CO2 underground. Contingent upon the creation cycle, this cycle can deliver low, unbiased or even carbon negative oil by sequestering a measure of CO2 equivalent to or more prominent than that which is produced.

In the US, OLX Low Carbon Venture Company is one of the many facilities using this DAC technology. The company developed designs capable of capturing one metric ton of carbon dioxide per year in a progressive process by use of aqueous Potassium hydroxide sorbent coupled to a calcium caustic recovery loop. Solid sorbents offer the possibility of low energy input, low operating costs, and applicability across a wide range of scales. Aqueous sorbents offer the preferred position that the contactor can work consistently, can be assembled utilizing modest cooling-tower equipment, and the (fluid) surface is ceaselessly reestablished permitting long contactor lifetimes in spite of residue and air pollutants. Once caught, Keith et al. (2018) identify that CO2 can be effectively siphoned to a focal recovery office permitting economies of scale and staying away from the need to cycle conditions in the characteristically enormous air contactor. Weaknesses of fluid frameworks incorporate the expense and multifaceted nature of the recovery framework and water misfortune in dry conditions.

The US federal policy on climate change on reduction or mitigation of carbon dioxide framework and its elements is appropriate for BECCS if the Carbon, Capture and Storage (CCS) technology applied matures after it evolves according to Bui et al. (2018). The policy shifts from technology-specific support that focuses on the creation of CCS as a commercial activity, to technology- neutral support that allows deployment of the technology when it cost effective among other discounted opportunities according to Larsen et al. (2019). As a result, it is identified that the technology is currently adopted by private facilities thus the policy has only adapted from supporting both CCS investment and operations to the emphasis on operations of the technology, that is from a concept where the private and public sector share in the risk and cost of CCS creation to one where risks and costs are majorly borne by the private industry. From a concept where CCS technology is incentivized by offering subsidies to a concept where it is incentivized by emissions of prices.

On the policy instrument on DAC, the US federal policy on climate change on reduction and mitigation of carbon dioxide has not provided enough capacity in support of the technology as identified by Kumar et al. (2015). For full effect of the DAC technology, they must be leverage on federal procurement by the Department of Defense, and the General Services Administration can also launch a competitive procurement program for removal of carbon from DAC with sequestration in addition to procuring low-carbon materials produced with DAC carbon dioxide. As a result, Fasihi et al. (2019) affirm that DAC technology has only been adopted by several medium size organizations that progressively progresses to deploy cheap, clean energy, but with no public search and development spending on technology for many years. However, recently in the year 2019, major investment by the US government via approvals by the US congress for the public to invest into the technology approximately ninety-five million US dollars to scale up development efforts in mitigating carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere.

Discussion

BECCS which is a particular application of CCS technology where carbon dioxide is captures from the process of application of biomass feedstock, and was at first conceived for more ambitious climate change targets to be attained. In recent times, Gough and Mander (2019) identify that there has been greater need for increased levels of carbon dioxide emission reduction, where it is steered by the 1.5°C authoritatively linked with the comprehension of the capability function for CCS technology in minimizing emission across the entire US economy as well as its likelihood to liberate Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR), thus adjusting the policy framework and BECCS is currently a mainstay of proposed climate mitigation portfolios.

On the contrary, CCS technology promoting BECCS, has been identified and policies associated to its framework that it is not straightforward to determine that carbon removal from the atmosphere is met. Moreover, Mulligan et al. (n.d) argue that if BECCS depend on bioenergy crops, then it could derange production of food or even destabilize the natural ecosystem, aggravate food insecurity, lead to loss of ecosystem and erase climate benefits associated with it.

It is not to disregard possible positive outcomes associated with the BECCS CCS technology, actually according to studies conducted by Low and Schäfer (2020), they identify that if tools of US federal policy on mitigation of carbon emissions are well implemented, it has the potential to convert waste like garbage or agricultural residue into energy. Bui et al. (2018) add that these feedstocks could be fundamental to the subsequent time of BECCS, because they would need committed land utilization, and even then, the accounting by the public and private sector in the US must be correct for BECCS to meet the expected climate benefits in mitigating carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in the US environment.

On direct air capture that applies DAC technologies, it is a straight forward measure and accounts for the climate benefits of directly capturing of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and is potential scale of being deployed is not only by private sector as currently been done, but also by the public sector enormously. Larsen et al. (2019) insist that the US federal policy on climate change in mitigation of carbon emissions addresses the country’s sectoral and national factors since it is a gas and coal producer, and consumers who have anticipated chronic effects. Hence policy action needs to address the development of more contemporary markets, market barriers and failures, as well as foster and regulate the infrastructure of the technology. With such high stakes, the quality of policy is vital where the policy framework and instruments the US will adopt and promote the investment in technology development and deployment experience, together with progressive growth in the deployment of cheap, clean energy, thus advancing the prospects for direct air capture at a larger scale.

There are a number of private facilities that have developed direct air capture systems, despite the near absence of public study and development spending on the DAC technology for a number of years. According to a journal by Mulligan et al. (n.d), it is because the technology to be effective it requires substantial heat and power inputs; these are scrubbing one billion metric ton of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere would need about ten per cent of energy consumption. In addition, the DAC technology would need to be powered by low or zero -carbon energy sources to result in net carbon removal. It makes the technology quite expensive and energy-intensive, and however difficult it is to pin down the costs of contemporary DAC technologies, studies conducted back in the year 2018 estimated that the cost of the technology was about ninety-four to two-hundred and thirty-two US dollars for every metric ton.

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Conclusion

In the United States of America, citizens are taking action to address the grave challenge of climate change, and to foster a sustainable and prosperous clean energy for future. These efforts are being undertaken at all levels of the US government, in the private sector, as well as everyday decisions by individual citizens. Major focus is on policies aimed at reducing the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere so as to minimize the increase in the overall temperature of the planet and the resulting effects. Federal climate policy was enacted as set of actions by the US federal government to address and mitigate these effects of climate change. The policies are geared towards promoting technologies that can mitigate carbon dioxide emission into the US atmosphere. Two major technologies that have been promoted include the Bio-energy with Carbon Capture and Storage technology and the latter technologies that are not fully sponsored by the public sector for full effect across the United States of America depicting more likelihood of effecting substantial change in the efforts to combat carbon dioxide effect in the atmosphere. However, the sustenance of the technology is quite expensive as it requires ninety-four to two-hundred and thirty-two US dollars for every metric ton, for it to be powered by low or zero -carbon energy sources so as to result in net carbon removal.

Bibliography

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