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OVERVIEW - Another month, another increase in US CO2 emissions from energy

Author: Patrick.

November 27 (Renewables Now) - US emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) from energy consumption have increased during each of the first eight months of 2018 compared to the corresponding months in 2017, according to a SUN DAY Campaign analysis of data recently released by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Further, the latest issue of EIA's "Monthly Energy Review" (with data through August 31, 2018) reveals that for the first two-thirds of 2018, total CO2 emissions from domestic use of petroleum, natural gas, coal, biomass, geothermal energy, and non-biomass waste were 2.9% higher than for the same period in 2017. For the most recent month reported (i.e., August 2018), CO2 emissions are 3.4% higher than a year earlier.

Emissions from fossil fuels alone (i.e., coal, petroleum, natural gas) have risen by more than 3.0% (i.e., 3.05%) while those from just natural gas zoomed upward by over 12.0% (i.e., 12.03%).

If the current growth rate continues, CO2 emissions from energy consumption in 2018 will be back up to, and perhaps exceed, the level they were at in 2015. This would reverse the downward and encouraging trajectory of the past decade - a trend highlighted by EIA in news releases it recently issued but which were both out-of-date and misleading.

Moreover, the rate at which CO2 emissions are rising has consistently outpaced the increases forecast throughout the year by EIA in its monthly "Short-Term Energy Outlook." For the first six months of 2018, EIA forecast, on average, an increase of only 1.3% in 2018 CO2 emissions. For the most recent five-month period (i.e., July - November 2018), the average of EIA's forecasts for the increase in CO2 levels in 2018 rose to 2.2%. Its highest forecast - a 2.5% increase - was issued on November 6. Thus, actual year-to-date emissions are now exceeding EIA's worst-case prediction.

In addition, beyond CO2 emissions from domestic energy consumption, the US is dramatically increasing its contribution to global emissions through its aggressive coal export program. EIA data reveal that net US coal exports during the first nine months of 2018 have exceeded the levels recorded for each corresponding month in 2017. For the first three-quarters of 2018, coal exports are nearly one-third higher (i.e., 32.9%) than they were in 2017 [82,812 thousand short tons vs. 62,327 thousand short tons].

Ironically, EIA's latest data were released just days before the federal government issued its "Fourth National Climate Assessment" which underscores the dire and growing impacts of climate change and the need to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

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About the author

Ken Bossong is Executive Director of the SUN DAY Campaign, a non-profit research and educational organiсation promoting sustainable energy technologies as cost-effective alternatives to nuclear power and fossil fuels.

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