Tennessee is among the worst polluters of carbon dioxide emissions, according to a Greenpeace Report issued Wednesday.
The state has one of the worst records on per capita CO2 emissions, according to the “Greenpeace Report: America's Share of the Climate Crisis: A State-By-State Carbon Footprint,” released at a press conference in downtown Nashville. The document, from the international environmental advocacy group, measures cumulative CO2 emissions from the U.S. and other countries from 1960 to 2005.
When broken down according to total emissions over the time period, Tennessee ranked 17th in the U.S., with 4.713 million tons of CO2. If states are considered like individual countries, most states rank second only to Luxembourg in per capita emissions, a tiny member of the European Union. This includes Tennessee with 828 tons of CO2 per capita.
“[The Tennessee Valley Authority] has been pushing a little bit for different renewable projects, however most of our energy comes from coal,” said Greenpeace field organizer Edyta Sitko. “We are literally using 19th century technology in getting our electricity still by using coal.”
TVA estimates that 60 percent of its electricity comes from coal while nuclear generates 30 percent; hydroelectric the rest.
Greenpeace is using the report to measure the U.S. output of CO2 in advance of climate meetings in December when nations gather to develop a new climate control treaty.
The group does not support nuclear power, saying it is too expensive and dangerous. Sitko said that Greenpeace is also supporting a variety of domestic measures to curb CO2, ranging from investing in renewable fuels to supporting a carbon-cap and trade system.
“It doesn’t mean that we have to change our lifestyle, it just means that we have to be smarter,” said Sitko, who was joined in Wednesday’s press conference by a local solar energy producer — Outpost Solar — that makes solar-power generators for remote locations.
The Pulaski-based company also wants to turn parking lots into power generators and is developing a prototype system that will place a series of solar panels in parking lots.
Sitko said that improving the nation’s electricity grid will be essential to store and transmit renewable energy to consumers.