Sunday, February 8, 2015

Green House Gas Emissions in Minnesota

Here's a good piece of info to keep handy from MPR, which just finished a week-long series on climate change.

State leaders talk about Minnesota's emissions in four different areas. Think of them as four unequal legs of a stool.

The power sector is the main one, making up 31 percent of Minnesota's emissions. Since 2005, Minnesota has reduced emissions in that sector by 17 percent.

The next longest leg of that stool is transportation, accounting for a quarter of Minnesota's emissions. Emissions from cars and trucks are down, even though Minnesotans are driving the same number of miles, because vehicles get better gas mileage.

But the state has made less progress on the last two legs of the stool: agriculture and buildings. Agriculture makes up 19 percent of emissions. It's the burping cows, but also fertilizing crops, which releases nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas. And tilling soil releases carbon dioxide.

The buildings category includes everything from heating homes to running factories.

Thornton says those last two stool legs are going to be much more difficult to deal with.

In the power sector, "there's only a handful of utility companies, and it's much easier to get your arms around that sector," he said.

For transportation, there are millions of cars and trucks but only a handful of manufacturers, he said.

But when it comes to getting individual farms, homes and buildings to change, he said, "you're dealing with just millions and millions of people and it's so much more difficult."
So, 31 percent for power, 19 percent for agriculture, and 25 percent each for buildings and transportation. And from what the story says, that pie chart's wedges are shifting, with power and transportation getting smaller while agriculture and buildings grow, relatively, because they are not decreasing their output and so become larger, relatively.

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