Tackling the World’s Largest Sites of Climate-Disrupting Emissions
Don Grant, Andrew Jorgenson, Wesley Longhofer
Power plants are essential to achieving the standard of living that modern societies demand and the social and economic infrastructure on which they depend. Yet their indispensability has allowed them to evade responsibility for their vast carbon emissions. Fossil-fueled power plants are the single largest sites of anthropogenic greenhouse gases, making them one of the greatest threats to our planet’s climate. Significant as they are, we lack a comprehensive understanding of the social causes that enable power plant emissions and continue to delay their reduction.
Super Polluters offers a groundbreaking global analysis of carbon pollution caused by the generation of electricity, pinpointing who bears the most responsibility for the energy sector’s vast emissions and what can be done about them. The sociologists Don Grant, Andrew Jorgenson, and Wesley Longhofer analyze a novel dataset on the carbon dioxide emissions and structural attributes of thousands of fossil-fueled power plants around the world, identifying which plants discharge the most carbon. They investigate the global, organizational, and political conditions that explain these hyper-emitting facilities’ behavior and call into question the claim that improvements in technical efficiency will always reduce emissions. Grant, Jorgenson, and Longhofer demonstrate which energy and climate policies are most effective at abating power-plant pollution, emphasizing how mobilized citizen activism shapes those outcomes. A comprehensive account of who bears the blame for our warming planet, Super Polluters points to more feasible and effective emission reduction strategies that target the world’s most profligate polluters.