Quantcast
Connect with us

U.S. carbon emissions drop to 20-year low

Published

on

US emissions of carbon dioxide blamed for climate change fell in 2011 and have slipped to a 20-year low this year as the the world’s largest economy uses more natural gas and less coal, data shows.

The surprise drop from the world’s second biggest emitter comes despite the lack of legislation on climate change but it was unclear if the change marked a trend or would be enough to meet goals on fighting global warming.

ADVERTISEMENT

Official data showed that energy-related US carbon emissions fell by 2.4 percent in 2011 from the previous year.

The decline did not fully track the broader economy as the United States posted growth in 2011, whereas the last time emissions declined was in 2009 during a contraction in the economy.

In the first three months of 2012, US carbon emissions from energy use were down by almost eight percent from the same period last year, marking the lowest level for the quarter since 1992, the Energy Information Administration said.

The government agency said that the drop in emissions in the first quarter was due in part to the warmer winter, which decreased the need for heating during the season that traditionally sees the most energy demand.

ADVERTISEMENT

The quarter saw the lowest level since 1983 in carbon emissions generated by coal, which is the dirtiest major source of energy. In 2011, coal accounted for 43 percent of US power generation, down from 51 percent in 2005.

“The decline in coal-related emissions is due mainly to utilities using less coal for electricity generation as they burned more low-priced natural gas,” said the report issued this month.

ADVERTISEMENT

The supply of natural gas has soared due to a boom in hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” — high-pressure injections of water, sand and chemicals deep into the earth to blast through rock and release gas and oil.

Advocates say that fracking has the potential to reduce US emissions and imports, but environmentalists have voiced concern that the process can contaminate water supplies. Governments including France and the US state of Vermont have banned fracking.

The US data showed that some 18 percent of US energy consumption in 2011 came from sources that do not emit any carbon dioxide including nuclear, hydropower, wind and solar energy.

ADVERTISEMENT

The Energy Information Administration warned that it was “difficult to draw conclusions” from data due to specific factors in 2011, including a large increase in hydropower generation.

But it said that other factors — including the abundance of natural gas and improvements in fuel efficiency of vehicles — could make a longer-term impact.

In a projection made in June, the agency estimated that US carbon emissions would be more than nine percent below 2005 levels in 2020 assuming no national regulations other than vehicle emission standards.

ADVERTISEMENT

President Barack Obama promised ahead of the turbulent UN climate summit in Copenhagen in 2009 that the United States would cut emissions by 17 percent by 2020 from 2005 levels, in a shift from his climate-skeptic predecessor George W. Bush.

But proposals backed by Obama to restrict carbon emissions have died in Congress. Lawmakers of the rival Republican Party are staunchly opposed, arguing that climate efforts are too costly and voicing doubt about scientists’ views on climate change.

International negotiations have also deadlocked. China, the world’s largest emitter, has vowed to reduce the intensity of its emissions but rejects a binding treaty.

ADVERTISEMENT

The planet has been experiencing extreme weather, droughts and record temperatures that many scientists link to climate change. The continental United States this year experienced a spring that was the warmest on record at 5.2 degrees Fahrenheit (2.9 Celsius) above the average from 1901 to 2000.

[Chimney via Shutterstock]

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and legal efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. And unlike other news outlets, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from billionaires and corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click to donate by check.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



Report typos and corrections to: [email protected]. Send news tips to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

‘They love the meanest parts of him’: Conservative writer explains why evangelical Christians stick with Trump

Published

on

Ben Howe, a conservative writer and evangelical Christian who refuses to support Donald Trump, explained why fellow evangelicals continue to back the president despite his decidedly ungodly behavior.

Speaking with the Atlantic’s Emma Green about his new book The Immoral Majority, Howe — whose evangelical bona fides include attending pastor Jerry Falwell’s church as a kid — described evangelicals’ support for Trump, insisting “they love the meanest parts of him.”

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

‘Mental midget’ Stephen Miller absolutely demolished in MSNBC blast at Trump’s ‘misfit’ advisers

Published

on

Given the opportunity to discuss two profiles on White House adviser Stephen Miller -- published by the Washington Post and the New York Times late Saturday -- Democratic consultant Don Calloway jumped in with both feet to trash the man he called a "mental midget"."

Asked p on MSNBC about the controversial Miller's outsized influence on Donald Trump, Calloway didn't hold back.

"What goes through your head when you hear how much influence Stephen Miller has on immigration policy?" host Alex Witt asked.

"Stephen Miller is a mental midget, that's the best thing I can say," Calloway began to the sounds of laughter offscreen.

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

Black woman reveals how Trump is ruining her marriage: ‘My white Republican husband is starting to hate me’

Published

on

A black woman revealed over the weekend how President Donald Trump and right-wing media are straining her marriage.

In a Twitter rant on Saturday, a woman going by the name Glass Butterfly hit a nerve by starting a discussion about the challenges of interracial marriage in the age of Trump.

"My white Republican husband is starting to hate me because the longer we live through this administration the 'BLACKER' I become," she revealed. "Any interracially and opposing politically affiliated couples going through this? Like...I have NO idea how to balance who we are..or are becoming."

Continue Reading
 
 

Thank you for whitelisting Raw Story!

As a special thank you, from now until August 31st, we're offering you a discounted rate of $5.99/month to subscribe and get ad-free access. We're honored to have you as a reader. Thank you. :) —Elias, Membership Coordinator
LEARN MORE
close-link
close-image