US carbon emissions spike in 2018

  • US carbon emissions spike in 2018

US carbon emissions spike in 2018

The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.

Emissions from electrical power generation, for example, were up 1.9%, despite coming largely from natural gas rather than coal as a near-record number of coal plants closed previous year.

The findings, published Tuesday by the independent economic research firm Rhodium Group, mean that the United States now has a diminishing chance of meeting its pledge under the 2015 Paris climate agreement to dramatically reduce its emissions by 2025.

While the Rhodium report notes these figures - pulled from US Energy Information Administration data and other sources - are estimates, The Global Carbon Project, another research group, also reported a similar increase in US emissions for 2018. But economic growth offers a better explanation, according to Rhodium Group researchers.

"As carbon emissions continue to climb, it is more important than ever that we do everything we can to support low-carbon fuels like biodiesel", Don Scott, sustainability director for the National Biodiesel Board, told Biodiesel Magazine.

Carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel combustion peaked in the 2007 at just over 6 billion tons.

Trump administration officials have said that emissions can waiver from year to year depending on the economy, but that the country can both cut emissions and enjoy a strong economy at the same time.

And the new report projects an increase to 5.32 billion metric tons of Carbon dioxide in 2018.

The last time emissions increased this much was in 2010 when the country was recovering from the Great Recession.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) past year moved to give states more leeway in setting emissions standards for power plants, with its Affordable Clean Energy rule offered as a replacement for the Obama-era Clean Power Plan.

"That slowdown in progress, combined with a lack of new climate policy action at the federal level, risked putting the USA emissions reduction goal under the Paris Agreement - a 26-28 percent cut below 2005 levels by 2025 - out of reach", explains the Rhodium Group.

Environmentalists say the Trump administration needs to speed up the transition from natural gas to renewables such as wind and solar power and energy storage.

But the largest emissions growth came from two sectors "often ignored in clean energy and climate policymaking: buildings and industry". Manufacturing growth fueled a 5.7 percent increase in the industrial emissions total.

"This highlights the challenges in decarbonizing the transportation sector beyond light-duty vehicles", the reports states of the trend. That CO2 comes from burning fuel oil, diesel and natural gas for heating and cooking.

Prolonged cold spells in a number of regions drove up demand for energy in the winter, while a hot summer in many parts led to more air conditioning, again pushing up electricity use.

The latest emissions data comes as the world's scientists have called the global climate problem more urgent than previously thought - making the United States' emissions trends and its path to withdraw from the Paris agreement more consequential.

Transport wins the title of sector with the largest source of U.S. emissions for the third time in a row, while the report also reveals a major year-on-year rise in emissions in both the buildings and industrial sectors. "We expect it to overtake power as the second leading source of emissions in California by 2020 and to become the leading source of emissions in Texas by 2022". President Trump announced in 2017 that the USA would leave the agreement, and Rhodium reported the nation was already behind the pace to meet its targets - a 26% to 28% carbon emissions reduction by 2025 - before a year ago. The Rhodium report relies in part on a U.S. Energy Information Administration report that "projects that Carbon dioxide emissions will continue to trend downward in 2019, even as our industry continues to meet record consumer demand and deliver for American families, " he said.