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Expand chart
Data: EIA; Chart: Axios Visuals

A federal report on U.S. carbon emissions helps to show the fast rise of wind and solar in recent years and why the potential retirement of nuclear plants makes it harder to deeply decarbonize the overall mix.

Driving the news: As the chart above shows, renewables are a rapidly growing share of the total amount of zero-carbon electricity the country produces, but nuclear still has by far the largest amount.

  • As plants potentially retire, those growing renewables must compensate for nuclear losses in addition to replacing fossil generation.
  • EIA's long-term outlook sees nuclear capacity falling by almost 20% in the next few decades, but the level of future natural gas prices could raise or reduce that amount a lot.

The big picture: The CO2 report unpacks forces that led to a 2.9% drop last year, including coal's continued slide, and a dip in transportation emissions following growth from 2012-2018.

  • Natural gas, which emits far less CO2 when burned than coal, is responsible for more of the ongoing declines in power sector CO2 emissions than renewables, it shows.

What's next: EIA's latest short-term outlook sees a 10% drop in U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions this year because the pandemic curtailed so much activity, but a nearly 5% rise in 2021.

Go deeper

Amy Harder, author of Generate
Jan 4, 2021 - Energy & Environment
Column / Harder Line

10 energy and climate issues to watch in 2021

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

From presidential aspirations to oil to corporate positioning, here’s what I’m watching this year.

The big picture: After the year that wasn’t, well, everything we thought it would be, 2021 will be a messy mix of the pandemic (still) and reviving all that it sidelined on all things, including energy and climate change.

Battle for the soul of a new web

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A well-funded and intensely motivated chunk of tech's hive mind is finding common cause in a vast new project: rebuilding the web on a foundation of cryptocurrency and blockchain tech. They call it "Web3."

The big picture: Developers, investors and early adopters imagine a future in which the technologies that enable Bitcoin and Ethereum will break up the concentrated power today's tech giants wield and usher in a golden age of individual empowerment and entrepreneurial freedom.

First look: Biden summons top CEOs on supply chain

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Biden will meet Monday afternoon with CEOs of big retailers, grocers and consumer-products firms to send this message, according to the White House: Products will be on shelves for holiday shopping.

Zoom out: Black Friday sales rebounded from 2020.