Online Extra: Table: Governments in Action

  Governments in Action
A peek at effective national programs in response to climate change -- and some regional and municipal efforts that are proving resourceful and creative

1 Germany

> Steady increases in prices and levies on electricity, oil, gas

> Renewable energy legislation provides effective business stimulation

> Upgrading energy infrastructure

Results: GHG emissions chopped by 19% in 2002 from 1990 levels, with plans for 40% reduction by 2020. Created 450,000 jobs in renewable energy and generated $23 million in eco-taxes

2 Britain

> Tax on business use of energy

> Emissions trading scheme

> Grants for eco-technology development

Results: 15% reduction of GHG emissions in 2002 from 1990 levels, plus commitment to cut 60% by 2050. Energy savings of $1.2 billion from 1989 to 2001, while economy posted 30% growth

3 Iceland

> Hydrogen-energy plan for all vehicles could eliminate oil imports by 2030

> Four-year, $6.4 million program of tree planting and revegetation began in 1997 to help offset unusually high CO2 emissions

> Renewables have long provided 70% of Iceland's primary energy

Results: Exceeded by 22% a goal to sequester 22,000 tons of CO2 by planting trees

4 Alliance of Small Island States

> AOSIS was formed in 1990 during the Second World Climate Conference to address climate-change impacts

Results: Has played a key role in shaping international policy on climate change, despite the limited political clout of its 43 members


1 Manitoba, Canada

> GHG reduction is centerpiece of economic development plan

> Expanding renewable power to trim GHGs by 23% in 2012 and eliminate coal

2 California

> By the 2009 model year, cars sold in California must meet much tougher tailpipe emissions standards, and 10% of each carmaker's sales must be zero-emission vehicles

> Created the California Climate Action Registry in late 2001 to encourage voluntary actions to improve energy efficiency and decrease GHG emissions

> Enacted Public Goods Charge to support renewables development

> Wants to eliminate 80% of GHG emissions by 2050

Results:Saved $20 billion in energy costs by encouraging efficiency measures

3 Catalonia, Spain

> Sun power will rise in this region of Spain after mandate that new construction include solar collectors

> Renewable energy stimulus budget of $2.3 billion provides financing to encourage all forms of renewable energy

Results: 55,000 square meters of solar collectors are already installed, and 2010 could boost that tenfold. More than 1 megawatt of photovoltaic power (55% of existing solar capacity) is now connected to the grid, together with 88 MW of wind power

4 Schleswig-Holstein, Germany

> Wind-power development plan adopted in 1988

Results: 25% of energy now generated from wind power. Target is to double this to 50% by 2010

5 New England and Eastern Canada

> Organization of 12 governors and premiers adopted 2001 Climate Change Action Plan. It calls for GHG emissions to be cut to 1990 levels by 2010, then a further reduction of 10% by 2020


1 Woking, England

> Pushed city agencies to increase energy-efficient lighting and heating along with low-carbon vehicles

> Targeting 80% cut in 1990 levels of GHG emissions by 2090

Results: Municipal buildings reduced 2001 energy consumption by 40% from 1990 levels. City agencies chopped CO2 emissions in 2004 by 77%

2 Vaxjo, Sweden

> Boosted use of biomass for electric heat and power.

> Set 2010 per-capita targets of 50% less GHG emissions and 20% cuts in energy consumption, both from 1993 levels

Results: 18% reduction in GHG emissions in 2002 vs. 1993

3 Portland, Ore.

> Public-private partnerships promote conservation

> Rebates, tax credits, incentives encourage green buildings

> Effective promotion of public transport and use of bicycles

> Shooting for 20% less GHG emissions in 2010, from 1990 levels

Results: $300 million in energy savings for homes and businesses since 1990. GHGs trimmed 7% from 1990 levels

4 Heidelberg, Germany

> Substantial installations of renewable energy in public buildings

> Home energy-efficiency improvements aided by public financing scheme

Results: $1.5 million annual savings on municipal fuel bill. GHGs expected to decline in 2005 by 20% from 1987 levels

5 Toronto, Canada

> Major program to harness methane from landfills

> Buildings refitted with efficient lighting and heating

> Public transport improvements

Results: 42% reduction in GHG emissions from municipal facilities during the 1990s. Further 20% cut in GHGs in 2005. Methane-capture program generates $20 million (Canadian), and building efficiency efforts save $17 million in energy and maintenance costs

6 Barcelona, Spain

> Ordinance required solar collectors for new buildings starting in 2000

Results: 19,000 square meters of solar collectors were installed by 2004, notching savings of $1.4 million since 2000

7 London, England

> In 2003, slapped rush-hour drivers in busy downtown sections with a daily congestion charge -- now about $10. Drivers who switch to alternative-fuel cars can qualify for discounts of up to 100%

> City buildings and operations are shifting to a zero-emissions footing

> London's familiar black taxis, 20,000 strong, must halve GHGs by 2008

Results: Traffic congestion down 30%, vehicular CO2 emissions dropped 19%, and rush-hour ridership on buses is up 37%. One fire station now delivers surplus solar electricity to the grid. London mass transport procures 20% of its electricity from renewable sources, up from 16% in 2003. In April, a flat fee of 35 pence was added to taxi fares to fund the cost taxi CO2 abatement

8 Seattle

> In 2001, lined up behind the Kyoto Protocol goals and also pledged to become the first major U.S. city to achieve zero-net GHG emissions

> Put City Light, the city's public utility, on a fast track to zero net emissions

Results: City government has cut its own emissions by 60% vs. 1990, mainly by buying more fuel-efficient cars. Incentives help assure that energy-efficient buildings will go up in the downtown areas. City Light expects to achieve zero net status this year, through investments in wind and hydro power and unloading its share of one coal-fired generating plant

9 Melbourne, Australia

> The city aims to have zero net carbon emissions by 2020

> Currently, Melbourne actively seeks out renewable power sources and funds energy-efficient building projects

Results: The city has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 15% since 1996. Thirty percent of the energy powering corporate customers in Melbourne comes from renewable sources

10 The Hague, The Netherlands

> The city aims to be carbon neutral by 2006

Results: 100% of the electricity supply to municipal buildings comes from renewable energy sources. One-third of households use green energy

Data: BusinessWeek, The Climate Group, Innovest

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