Nov 19, 2019

The state of U.S. energy-related carbon emissions

Ben Geman, author of Generate
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Data: U.S. Energy Information Administration; Chart: Axios Visuals

U.S. carbon emissions from energy rose by 2.7% last year, ending several years of declines, federal Energy Information Administration data confirms.

Why it matters: While emissions have been in a generally downward trend for well over a decade, the report late last week shows how the U.S. is off track to meet its pledges under the Paris climate deal.

Context: Under the Obama administration, the U.S. pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 26%-28% below 2005 levels by 2025.

  • U.S. emissions of CO2, the dominant greenhouse gas, last year were 12% below 2005 levels, per EIA's report.

The intrigue: President Trump is pulling the U.S. out of the agreement, but the data show how a future president who reverses course would be challenged to meet the existing commitment, let alone a tougher pledge.

What they found: EIA attributed the rise to a warmer summer and a colder winter than in 2017. And then there's transportation, which is the largest source of U.S. emissions and, unlike power, emissions from that sector have been on an upward march.

  • "Transportation-related CO2 emissions have been increasing steadily in the United States since 2012 because of a recovering economy and moderate fuel prices," they write.

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