Significant Drop in U.S. Carbon Dioxide Emissions

Renewable energy — By Stephanie on May 22, 2009 at 6:43 am
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Clearer skies may result from significant drop in U.S. carbon dioxide emissions

Great news on the global climate change front: this week a significant drop in U.S. carbon dioxide emissions was announced by the United States Energy Information Administration (aka EIA).  Such a large decline in greenhouse gas emissions (preliminary data shows a 2.8% drop in a single year) has not been seen since 1982.

Since we’re all about the good environmental news, this is definitely worth highlighting!

The flagging economy probably gets credit here, however.  People cannot financially afford to drive big, gas guzzling cars or keep the thermostat at the same levels as previously enjoyed.  Looking to save a buck or two has resulted in American consumers taking a good hard examination of their greedy energy usage, and to cut back.  If only we could say that its all about people cutting back for the environment’s sake!

The Vulcan Project has developed a cool, interactive map to show where in the U.S. carbon emissions are highest:

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Fewer greenhouse gas emissions with more wind power

As CO2 levels fell, it’s surprising to learn that Gross Domestic Product (GDP) actually went up a little over 1% last year.  Nonetheless, overall energy demand fell by 2.2%, according to the EIA.  And, if you love statistics as much as the next environmentalist, then how about this?  CO2 intensity (the amount of carbon dioxide emitted per GDP unit) also went down nearly 4%.

Talk about trends in the right direction!  In fact, since 1990, CO2 intensity has continually declined by over 29%.

Even coal-based emissions are falling, due in part to more wind energy generation.  Since the electric power sector is the largest emitter of greenhouse gases, the onus is on them to cut more – quickly and deeper.

So far, so good.  This news is encouraging, regardless of the overall reason for the drop in U.S. carbon dioxide emissions.  Call it the economy, or perhaps a little of an Inconvenient Truth finally sinking in.  We’ll take it.

Stay tuned, the EIA will release a full greenhouse gas inventory, which will show more specific trends, causes and effects, later this year.

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  1. Robert K says:

    While it is nice to see some good news on this front, I have to admit the pessimist in me is looking at the price of gas in 2008 and thinking, “Really? The biggest drop in demand for oil since 1980 (5.5% last year) yields only a 2.8% drop in CO2???”

    So is this really “great news”? Or is it disappointing that there isn’t a bigger correlation between our oil consumption and our CO2 production. It’ll be interesting to compare this report to the one a year from now.

  2. Stephanie says:

    Robert, yes – I hope that we continue to see drops in CO2 emissions, and I’ll take whatever positive news there is… regardless of the cause (high gas prices). Once the economy picks up, who knows if we’ll go back to greedy, wasteful spending again. Of course, this recession has really slapped us a good one.

    The jury is definitely still out.

  3. Rufor says:

    Ugh, I liked! So clear and positively.
    Thank you

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