Preliminary US Emissions Estimates for 2018

In New York, Rhodium Group’s latest report said after three years of decline, U.S. carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions rose sharply last year. Based on preliminary power generation, natural gas, and oil consumption data, they estimate emissions increased by 3.4% in 2018. This marks the second largest annual gain in more than two decades — surpassed only by 2010 when the economy bounced back from the Great Recession.

While a record number of coal-fired power plants were retired last year, natural gas not only beat out renewables to replace most of this lost generation but also fed most of the growth in electricity demand. As a result, power sector emissions overall rose by 1.9%. The transportation sector held its title as the largest source of US emissions for the third year running, as robust growth in demand for diesel and jet fuel offset a modest decline in gasoline consumption. The buildings and industrial sectors also both posted big year-on-year emissions gains. Some of this was due to unusually cold weather at the start of the year. But it also highlights the limited progress made in developing decarbonization strategies for these sectors. The U.S. was already off track in meeting its Paris Agreement targets. The gap is even wider headed into 2019.

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