The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Energy Tomorrow Radio: Episode 86 - Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction

Jane Van Ryan

Jane Van Ryan
Posted July 14, 2009

In this week's episode, I talk with Thomas Tanton, president of T2 and Associates, about the results of a study he conducted, commissioned by API, on global greenhouse gas emission reduction and technologies.

Use the audio player below to listen to my conversation with Mr. Tanton, and follow along with the show notes. I hope you find the podcast informative.

And for more information, read "Key Investments in Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Technologies by Energy Firms, Other Industry and the Federal Government: An Update." Feel free to leave a question in the comments section of this post.

Show Notes:

00:17 Global climate change continues to be in the news. It was discussed at the recent Group of Eight meeting, U.S. Congress is debating the pros and cons of bills aimed at reducing the threat of climate change, and economists are weighing the costs and benefits of various provisions included in the House of Representatives' proposal. But is anyone doing anything to reduce the greenhouse gases that are blamed for rising temperatures?

01:04 American firms, including the oil and natural gas industry, have been and are investing billions of dollars into technologies and fuel sources that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. From 2000 to 2008, $132.8 billion was invested by North American firms into these technologies.

02:16 The oil and natural gas industry is investing in new greenhouse gas mitigation technologies such as combined heat and power, or cogeneration; improving the efficiency of their operations; investing in advanced technology vehicles in cooperation with the auto makers; and investing in renewables like solar and wind.

03:01 The oil and gas industry is investing primarily in end-use technologies (combined heat and power and more efficient processes). These technologies represent about 52 percent of the total investments made by the industry.

03:25 The second largest share of the oil and natural gas industry's investments, approximately 36 percent, is fuel substitution. One example of fuel substitution is using liquefied natural gas in substitution for higher carbon emitting technologies like coal.

03:54 Ethanol, wind and solar power for electric generation, represent about 12 percent or $6.8 billion of investments from 2000 to 2008.

04:17 The federal government's investment in non-hydrocarbon technologies represents about 32 percent of their total $19.2 billion in greenhouse gas mitigation.

04:58 The oil and gas industry invested about 22 percent of its total investment of $30 billion in the non-hydrocarbon category--almost one-quarter of the total amount invested by all parties including the federal government.

05:57 Some oil and natural gas industry investments into fuels of the future have increased, and some have decreased. It depends on the status of the technology and other factors such as its commercial viability.

07:00 In 2008, the largest drop in greenhouse gases occurred, partially due to the recession, but also due to the technology investments and their success.

08:37 Liquefied natural gas is a critical component of meeting North Americans' demand for natural gas because it is much less carbon-intensive than coal.

09:31 For the next study, we plan to look at carbon intensity--is our overall carbon intensity decreasing to allow for economic and population growth, while simultaneously reducing the growth in carbon dioxide emissions?

10:11 For the past decade and a half, carbon intensity for the U.S. economy has continued to improve. The United States is one of the most carbon-efficient economies in the world.

10:43 The main lesson of this study is that the voluntary and self-interested approach is very effective.


Jane Van Ryan was formerly senior communications manager and new media advisor at the American Petroleum Institute (API), where she wrote blog posts and produced podcasts and videos. Before coming to API, Jane managed communications for a large science and engineering corporation, and for a top-tier research and engineering university. A few years ago, you might have seen her in your living room when she delivered the news on television. Jane officially retired from API in 2011 and now freelances as an independent communications consultant when not gardening at her farm in Virginia.