According to the latest edition of the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)’s “Monthly Energy Review” – released today with data through February 28, 2014 – the five-year (2008-2012) decline in U.S. carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions has ended and now reversed.
Carbon dioxide emissions from the consumption of fossil fuels (i.e., coal, natural gas, and petroleum plus non-biomass waste) had been declining since their record high in 2007 and were 12.52% lower in 2012 than they had been five years earlier. However, they increased by 2.39% in 2013 compared to 2012. Moreover, for the first two months of 2014, they increased by 7.45% compared to the same period in 2013.
A major share of the increase appears to be due to expanded use of coal. Coal-related CO2 emissions rose 4.17% in 2013 compared to 2012 and are up by 11.93% for January-February 2014 compared to those months in 2013. Coal accounted for 31.93% of CO2 emissions in 2013.
However, CO2 emissions from natural gas also rose: 2.13% in 2013 compared to 2012, and 9.97% for the first two months of 2014 compared to January-February 2013. Natural gas accounted for 25.79% of CO2 emissions in 2013.
Petroleum-related CO2 emissions (42.07% of the total in 2013) rose 1.29% from 2012 to 2013 and were up 1.94% in winter 2014 compared to early 2013.
Further, the increase in CO2 emissions is evident in all end-use sectors. Comparing calendar year 2013 to calendar year 2012 as well as the first two months of 2014 to the first two months of 2013, EIA data indicate that CO2 emissions from energy consumption grew as follows:
Residential sector: 4.79% and 15.32%
Commercial sector: 2.79% and 10.47%
Industrial sector: 2.58% and 5.18%
Transportation sector: 0.60% and 1.07%
Electric power sector: 0.88% and 11.48%
In addition, EIA reports that biomass (i.e., wood, fuel ethanol, biodiesel, and biomass waste), though only accounting for CO2 emissions equal to 6% of those from fossil fuels, also registered an increase: 6.09% in 2013 and 1.92% in 2014.
“The World Meteorological Organization reports that levels of carbon dioxide reached a landmark in April, topping 400 parts per million in the northern hemisphere, while NOAA adds that the combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for April 2014 tied with 2010 as the highest on record for the month,” said Ken Bossong, Executive Director of the SUN DAY Campaign. “Clearly, the anticipated release on June 2 of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s first-ever proposed rule limiting carbon dioxide pollution from existing power plants is not happening a minute too soon and much more needs to follow.”