Pollution in Illinois up 22 percent since 1990

Chicago—Global warming pollution in Illinois increased by 22 percent between 1990 and 2004, according to The Carbon Boom, a new analysis of state fossil fuel consumption data released by Environment Illinois. This is the first time that 2004 state-by-state data on carbon dioxide emissions have been released.

“To head off the worst impacts of global warming, we need to stabilize and reduce emissions substantially in the coming years,” said Environment Illinois Field Organizer David Nollman-Watanabe. “Unfortunately, in Illinois and across the country, our emissions are rising each year. We need real leadership from our federal and state officials to reverse this trend.”

Environment Illinois’ report came less than a week after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a U.N. body charged with assessing the scientific record on global warming, released its consensus report about the current and projected impacts of global warming. The report warned of increasing droughts, floods, heat waves, water stress, forest fires and coastal flooding in the United States, but concluded that “many impacts can be avoided, reduced or delayed” by quickly and significantly reducing global warming pollution.

Using data compiled by the U.S. Department of Energy, Environment Illinois’ new report examines trends in carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel consumption between 1990 and 2004, the most recent year for which state-by-state data are available.

Major findings of the report

Illinois’s carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel consumption grew from 191.1 million metric tons to 233.8 million metric tons between 1990 and 2004, an increase of 22 percent. Illinois ranked third nationwide for the largest absolute increase in carbon dioxide.

Nationwide, emissions of carbon dioxide from fossil fuel consumption increased by 18 percent between 1990 and 2004. Coal-fired power plants and the transportation sector—especially cars and SUVs—drove this emissions increase.

In Illinois, carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants jumped by 64 percent between 1990 and 2004, rising from 55.7 million metric tons to 91.5 million metric tons. Illinois ranked first nationwide for the largest absolute increase in carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants over the 15 year period.

“The good news is that we have the technology at our fingertips to cut global warming pollution and forge a cleaner, more secure energy future,” said Nollman-Watanabe.

In January, Environment Illinois released its global warming Blueprint for Action, which calculated we could achieve a 25 percent reduction in global warming pollution from Illinois sources by 2025 using a combination of clean car standards, renewable energy, and energy efficiency. That Blueprint is available at www.EnvironmentIllinois.org/blueprint.

Subsequently, Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) set a state goal of reducing emission to 1990 levels by 2020, and has initiated an advisory group to devise a plan to meet the goal.

“The governor has set a good target for emission reductions, and now we need to make sure it is more than simply an aspiration, by setting mandatory standards for global warming emissions as other states have done,” said Nollman-Watanabe.

Environment Illinois is working to advance the same solutions at the federal level. The Safe Climate Act (H.R. 1590), introduced by U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) in the House, and the Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act (S. 309), introduced by senators Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) in the Senate, would limit global warming pollution to levels that current science says are needed to prevent the worst effects of global warming. The bills would freeze U.S. global warming emissions in 2010 and reduce emissions by about 15 percent by 2020 and by 80 percent by 2050.

Nollman-Watanabe concluded: “To protect future generations, our leaders must take decisive action to cut global warming pollution. Environment Illinois calls on Rep. Tim Johnson to co-sponsor the only bill that does what scientists say we need to do—the Safe Climate Act.”

from the May 2-8, 2007, issue

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