Due in large part to reduced coal use and warmer winters, the US is producing less carbon emissions than they have in almost two decades. The combination of warmer winters, significantly
less electricity from coal, and reduced gasoline consumption reduced
carbon emissions to their lowest level in almost two decades.
According to a report titled “U.S. Energy-Related Carbon Dioxide Emissions, 2012” release on October 21, 2013 by the Energy Information Administration (EIA), US carbon dioxide emissions generated from energy consumption and production fell 3.8 percent in 2012 to 5,290 million metric tons, reaching their lowest level since 1994. The annual energy-related emissions in the US were 5,498 million metric tons in 2011. Although the US economy grew by 2.8 percent in 2012, energy intensity (Btu per dollar of GDP) fell by 5.1 percent.
A total of 50 percent of the emissions decline were attributable to reductions in the residential sector. This is in large part due to a reduction in heating due to a warmer than usual first quarter. By the end of March 2013, the EIA report indicates that the cumulative heating degree days were about 19 percent below the 10-year normal and 22 percent below 2011.
The EIA report found that emissions are at their lowest level since 1994 and over 12 percent below the recent 2007 peak. After 1990, only the recession year of 2009 saw a larger percentage emissions decrease than 2012.
Overall there appears to be a clear trend towards reductions in energy-related emissions. In five of the past seven years energy related emissions have and dropped despite a small population increase of 0.7 percent increase in population in 2012.
Another EIA report published in May states that CO2 emissions from energy between 2000 and 2010 declined in 32 states and rose in 18. While Texas had the greatest absolute decline (58.8 million metric tons) representing an 8.3 percent reduction in emissions, the state still led the US in CO2 emissions from energy with 663 million metric tons in 2010. Almost 50 percent of the emissions from Texas emissions are attributable to fossil fuels.
It is noteworthy that while reducing energy generated by coal was predictably a key factor, warmer winters have also played a significant role in helping to decrease CO2 emissions in the US. This may suggest that there is a tiny upside to global warming in an otherwise perilous trend towards a world ravaged by climate change.
© 2013, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.
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