A new state panel is to come up with proposals for cutting Iowa’s greenhouse gas emissions in half by the year 2050. Jerry Schnoor of the University of Iowa’s Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research is the group’s chairman, and he calls that an "ambitious" goal.
"The reason I’m somewhat optimistic is because, as a country, we haven’t really tried to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions…and now the states are sort of taking a lead — including Iowa — and trying to reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions," Schnoor says. The Climate Change Advisory Council is to meet this fall and present its recommendations to the 2008 Legislature.
One quarter of greenhouse gas emissions come from the transportation sector, according to Schnoor. "If we doubled our efficiency, you’d have a 12 percent improvement in total emissions right there," Schnoor says. Schnoor believes a greater percentage of Iowans’ cars need to be hybrids. He’s also advocating electric cars.
"In a hybrid car you already have an electric engine and a gasoline engine, but you don’t have a storage battery for the electric engine to go for a long time, like during a commute — say 50 to 100 miles each day, but we could achieve that by filling the car up with electricity at night," Schnoor says. "It could come from our wind power, from our Iowa wind turbines which are already doing very well and we can certainly expand that resource."
Iowa’s housing stock is old, according to Schnoor, and there are ways to save energy by making home improvements as well."We have pretty good building codes, but we don’t always enforce them," Schnoor says. "I think there’s going to be a lot of improvements to be made in our buildings as well." According to Schnoor, Iowa home owners could easily become power generators by installing solar panels on their roofs.