Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Like Exxon, Utilities Knew about Climate Change Risks Decades Ago

A new report shows through documents and testimony how utilities researched climate change and determined in the 1970s that they could force a shift away from coal.

The Electric Power Research Institute wrote publicly in 1988 about the growing consensus that the greenhouse effect is real. (Credit: Sean Gallup/Getty Images) Click to Enlarge.
A study issued Tuesday by an energy watchdog group offers important new insights into the fossil fuel industry's extensive early understanding of climate change and the risks it poses.

This time, it's the electric utility sector that's under the microscope.

The detailed study, backed up by reams of archival documents, was issued by the Energy and Policy Institute, an environmental advocacy and research group that favors the use of clean energy over fossil fuels.

Forty years ago, the documents show, industry officials told Congress that the looming problem of climate change might require the world to back away from coal-fired power—something that is only now beginning to happen.

The research presents a distinct echo of an investigation of Exxon's climate record published by InsideClimate News almost two years ago, and casts significant new light on the duration and depth of industry's climate research—and how electric companies that use fossil fuels responded to the emerging science from the 1960's onward.

The 66-page report unearths research documents and testimony published but then largely forgotten decades before the climate crisis emerged as a key public issue.

And in this episode of the nation's climate history, once again the same industry that foresaw the ultimate end of coal as a main fuel for power generation later supported actions to cast doubt on the science and to stave off policies to address the problem, funding groups that deny the scientific consensus and joining the main industry group that opposed participation in the first climate treaty.  To this day, there are few federal limits on emissions of carbon dioxide by utilities, one of the biggest sources of greenhouse gases.

 Read more at Like Exxon, Utilities Knew about Climate Change Risks Decades Ago

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