U.S. energy-related carbon dioxide emissions dropped by 3 percent last year, offsetting a 3-percent increase in 2018, as a record-high share of low-carbon sources were used in the electricity sector—the main contributor to emissions decline in 2019, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Tuesday.
Total energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in 2019 were about 150 million metric tons (MMmt) lower than in 2018, and nearly all of that decline, or 96 percent, was due to the changing mix of fuels used to generate electricity.
CO2 emissions in the electric power sector dropped by 8.1 percent year over year in 2019, with emissions from coal down by 15 percent and emissions from natural gas up by 7 percent, the EIA has estimated.
CO2 emissions from the U.S. electric power sector have declined by 33 percent from their peak in 2007 because less electricity has been generated from coal and more electricity has been generated from natural gas and non-carbon sources.
Over the past decade, coal-fired electricity generation capacity and coal-fired power generation have dropped in the United States as natural gas has been replacing coal capacity because of the cheap and abundant source of shale gas and stricter emissions regulations.
On the other hand, the combined share of nuclear and renewable sources in the U.S. power generation mix hit a record 38 percent in 2019, most of which coming from rising solar and wind power generation capacity, the EIA said.
In the other energy-related sectors, CO2 emissions from the industrial sector rose by 1.1 percent in 2019 compared to 2018, emissions from the residential and commercial sectors stayed nearly the same in 2019, and CO2 emissions from the transportation sector declined by 0.2 percent last year, breaking a six-year trend of steadily growing emissions in this sector since 2012, the EIA said.