U.S. energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions fell 2.8% to 5,130 million metric tons in 2019, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).
The data was released in EIA’s most recent Monthly Energy Review.
CO2 emissions rose 2.9% in 2018, the only annual increase in the past five years. In 2019, energy-related CO2 emissions fell more than energy consumption as a result of continuing trends in how much energy the U.S. economy uses and how much CO2 that energy use generated. Energy consumption fell 0.9% in 2019, while the GDP rose 2.3%.
Changes in U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions in 2019 offset the rise in 2018. The increase in 2018 was a result of increased energy use because of the weather and was the largest rise in CO2 emissions since 2010, when the U.S. economy was recovering from an economic recession, according to the EIA. Overall, U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions have fallen 15% from their peak of 6,003 million metric tons in 2007.
In 2019, CO2 emissions from petroleum fuels fell 0.8%, and CO2 emissions from the use of natural gas rose 3.3%. Nearly half of emissions from petroleum fuels can be attributed to motor gasoline consumption. CO2 emissions from coal declined 14.6%, the largest annual percentage drop in any fuel’s CO2 emissions since 1973. The United States emits less CO2 from coal than from motor gasoline, according to the EIA.
Nearly all of the change in CO2 emissions in 2019 took place in the electric power sector. CO2 emissions from the residential and commercial sectors were flat from 2018. The rise in emissions from the industrial sector was partially offset by a decline in CO2 emissions from the transportation sector.
U.S. power sector emissions declined 145 million metric tons in 2019 and comprised the second-largest fall for any sector. Total net electricity generation decreased by 1.5% in 2019, but power sector CO2 emissions declined 8.2% because of increases in renewable sources such as wind and solar. Electricity generation from coal decreased, and the rise was limited for natural gas-fired electricity generation. Sources such as wind and solar have no fuel costs when available and are the first sources used to meet electricity demand.
The transportation sector has been the largest source of energy-related CO2 emissions since surpassing the power sector in 2016. In 2019, the transportation sector’s energy-related CO2 emissions fell 0.7% as a decrease in motor gasoline-related CO2 emissions (-0.7%) and diesel fuel-related CO2 emissions (-1.1%) more than offset an increase in jet fuel-related CO2 emissions (1.9%).