Climate-Friendly Grilling

The 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, held in Paris, France from November 30 to December 12, 2015, negotiated the Paris Agreement; a global agreement designed to reduce climate change by limiting global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius (°C) compared to pre-industrial levels. The agreement calls for zero net anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions to be reached during the second half of the 21st century.

In the adopted version of the Paris Agreement, the parties will also try limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C, which according to some scientists will require zero emissions to occur between 2030 and 2050.

Zero emissions is a very ambitious goal and will affect the lives of our citizens directly in many ways. Take for example your backyard barbecue grill. You either have a charcoal grill or a grill fired by propane. Each emits copious amounts of CO2 to the air when it is used. Bountiful amounts of CO2 were emitted just making the charcoal, which was fabricated from wood scraps that were baked in a kiln for several hours. To light the charcoal in your grill, you douse it with liquid charcoal starter, set that on fire, and wait for 30 minutes to allow the briquettes to burn and get hot-enough to cook your food. After you finish cooking a charcoal barbeque must burn for several hours until all of the coals have turned to ash. During this whole period, from start to finish, a charcoal barbeque is spewing CO2 (and other pollutants) to the air.

A propane grill, while nevertheless directly emitting CO2 to the air from the combustion of the propane, is about half as much polluting as a charcoal grill. For one thing, to use a gas grill, you turn it on and can almost use it closest, without a lengthy warm-up period. You can also turn the combustion off when you are done cooking.

What about electric grills? Electric grills have one advantage in that they are not direct emitters of CO2 to the air. Depending on where your electricity is sourced, the CO2 for an electric grill is emitted at the strength plant. Because electric grills require warm-up periods of 20 or more minutes, they truly use more energy than charcoal or propane grills. However, there is a chance that your electricity (increasingly, in fact) might be sourced from a fuel other than coal. In August of 2015, President Barrack Obama unveiled his Clean strength Plan (CPP), which aims to reduce CO2 emissions from the generation of electricity by 32% over a 15 year period. The focus of the CPP is aimed at curbing CO2 emissions resulting from coal-fired strength plants.

Electric grills may, in some situations, truly have a CO2 advantage over charcoal and propane grills. This is because it is possible that your electricity may come from non-polluting supplies. If any portion of your electricity comes from wind or solar generation, hydro-strength, or already from nuclear strength plants, your electricity is emission-free, as none of those supplies produce CO2. Increasingly, strength plants are replacing outmoded coal-fired steam strength plants with modern natural gas strength plants. These gas-fired plants use highly efficient turbine engines (similar to those that strength airliners) that produce maximum efficiency for the amount of gas burned, so there is less CO2 associated with each kilowatt of electricity produced.

So, if you do a little homework to find out how your utility supplies the electricity you buy from it, you may find that your electricity has a low-carbon footprint. In such situations, buy an electric grill and get back to enjoying the American pastime of grilling, without worries that you are hurting the Earth’s climate!

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