Potential Adverse Environmental Impacts of Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Strategies

C. Andrew Millert and Cynthia L. Gage

Abstract The Fourth Assessment Report released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2007 was unequivocal in its message that warming of the global climate system is now occurring, and found, with "very high confidence" that it was "very likely" that the observed warming was due to anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs). To address the problem, the IPCC developed an outline of approaches to reduce GHG emissions to desired levels. The expected changes in technologies and practices needed to mitigate emissions of GHGs will lead to changes in the impacts to the environment associated with energy production and use. Some of these changes will be beneficial, but others will not. This chapter identifies some of the potential environmental impacts (other than the intended mitigation of climate change) of implementing GHG mitigation strategies, but will not attempt to quantify those impacts or their costs. Included are discussions of the impacts of implementing energy efficiency and conservation measures, fuel switching in the power generation sector, nuclear and renewable energy, carbon capture and storage, use of biofuels and natural gas for transportation fuels, and hydrogen and electricity for transportation energy. Environmental impacts addressed include changes in air emissions of nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and particulate matter; impacts to water quality and quantity; increased mining of coal to meet the power demands of carbon capture systems and of metals to meet demands for vehicle batteries; and impacts to ecosystems associated with biofuel production and siting of other renewable energy systems.

* The findings included in this chapter do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Environmental Protection Agency. Mention of trade names or commercial products does not constitute Agency endorsement or recommendation for use. t © US Government 2011

Air Pollution Prevention and Control Division, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Research and Development, National Risk Management Research Laboratory, Research Triangle Park, NC, USA e-mail: [email protected]

F.T. Princiotta (ed.), Global Climate Change - The Technology Challenge, Advances in Global Change Research 38, DOI 10.1007/978-90-481-3153-2_12, © Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

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