Jan 7, 2020

U.S. greenhouse gas emissions fell by estimated 2.1% in 2019

Power lines in California in 2019. Photo: Jane Tyska/MediaNews Group/The Mercury News via Getty Images

U.S. greenhouse gas emissions fell by 2.1% in 2019 due to a decrease in national coal consumption, according to estimates from the Rhodium Group released Tuesday.

Why it matters: Power generated from coal plants fell by a record 18%, and overall emissions from the power section declined by almost 10% — despite an increase in emissions from natural gas.

  • Coal saw record declines around the world last year.
  • The fuel's dramatic decline in the U.S. has been fueled by several factors: cheaper natural gas and renewable electricity, tougher environmental regulations in the Obama administration and the global shift to cleaner sources of energy in the face of climate change.

Yes, but: The Rhodium Group writes that there is little else to celebrate because other economic sectors made "far less progress." Transportation emissions stagnated, while emissions from buildings and industry rose.

The big picture: The U.S. ended 2019 at roughly 12% below its 2005 net greenhouse gas emissions levels.

  • The country is at risk of missing its target of a 17% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by the end of 2020, as required by the Copenhagen Accord.
  • The U.S. is also well off from meeting the reduction standard of the 2015 Paris agreement, which it no longer recognizes.

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The Gulf Coast's surging oil facilities could become a huge carbon emissions source

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Gulf Coast industrial facilities built to use surging oil and natural gas production from shale formations could become a very large source of greenhouse gas emissions, a peer-reviewed study concludes.

Why it matters: The paper in Environmental Research Letters bolsters understanding of shale's potential climate effects by looking closely at petrochemical plants, LNG terminals and other facilities (much of it in the planning stages).

Go deeperArrowJan 16, 2020

California is on track to miss its 2030 greenhouse gas emissions target

Reproduced from California Energy Policy Simulator; Chart: Axios Visuals

A new analysis finds that California is not on track to meet its 2030 greenhouse gas reduction targets absent new and toughened clean energy policies.

Why it matters: California has many of the nation's most aggressive programs, so the results shows the difficulty of achieving steep state-level cuts in that state and others adopting ambitious climate targets.

Go deeperArrowJan 16, 2020

House Democrats' climate bill aims to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

We can already draw some conclusions from yesterday's rollout of the "framework" for big climate legislation House Democrats are crafting through the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee.

Driving the news: The planned bill aims to achieve net-zero U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.