Nine LSU researchers joined committees and advisory groups for Gov. John Bel Edwards’s Climate Initiatives Task Force, an executive order signed in August of last year to reduce Louisiana’s greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.
By February 2022, the Task Force will submit a detailed plan to reduce Louisiana greenhouse gas emissions 26-28% by 2025, 40-50% by 2030 and net zero emissions by mid-century.
“Just as we have done with coastal protection and restoration, we are building an inclusive, science-driven process to lead us to solutions to an incredibly complex and difficult problem,” Edwards said in a press release.
The task force is supported by six committees pertaining to sectors of the economy, and four advisory groups focused on science, equity, law and policy, and financial and economic concerns.
LSU chemical engineering professor Kalliat Valsaraj is a part of the Science Advisory Committee, tasked with assessing the feasibility of scientific recommendations to attain carbon neutrality by 2050.
“It may be challenging to the Louisiana situation because of its reliance on the oil and gas industry, but the prospect of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 is certainly possible,” Valsaraj said.
The transition to renewable energy and carbon neutrality is crucial in mitigating the effects of global climate change. Greenhouse gas emissions increase temperatures in the atmosphere and the ocean, leading to sea-level rise, more extreme weather and a host of other devastating effects outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Almost every country joined the United Nations’ Paris Agreement, which aims to limit greenhouse emissions by transitioning economies away from nonrenewable energy, like oil and natural gas, to renewable energy, like solar and wind.
Louisiana is fifth among states in total carbon emissions and emissions per-capita, according to 2015-16 U.S. Department of Energy statistics. Much of Louisiana’s emissions come from the production of oil and gas at wells, the use of oil and gas as fuel in refineries and petrochemical manufacturing and from transportation emissions.
Edwards described Louisiana as the “poster child for climate risk,” during a meeting of the state Coastal Protection And Restoration Authority. Louisiana’s incidences of extreme weather and already-sinking coastline make the state especially vulnerable to climate-related impacts.
“Coastal erosion and the relocation of vulnerable communities will tax our state resources in the future,” Valsaraj said. “When you superimpose our already costly efforts at coastal restoration, even slight…