A new proposal from the Department of Energy proposes an unexpected target for President Obama's climate plan: refrigerators. By targeting industrial walk-in freezers and restaurant fridges, the department explains, gradual increases in efficiency standards could have enormous effects on energy use, both saving money and reducing carbon emissions. President Obama's climate plan had drawn criticism from environmentalists as toothless and ineffective, but these latest proposals would raise the stakes, cutting emissions by an estimated 350 million metric tons of carbon over the next 50 years.
The proposed standards would also effect smaller units, like the open-air dairy fridges found in modern supermarkets. Because of the large size of the units and their overall energy usage, the cumulative effect is expected to be equivalent to taking 109 million cars off the road for a year. More importantly, these regulations come direct from the Department of Energy, and don't require congressional approval to take effect. They're still just proposals, and would need to be adopted by the president, but given his previously announced climate plan, it seems likely the measures will meet with his approval.