According to a new US Energy Information Administration (EIA) report, energy related CO2 emissions dropped 3.8% in 2012, meaning that emissions were at their lowest levels since 1994. Also, the report has stated that energy related CO2 emissions have declined in 5 out of the last 7 years.
Emissions and the US economy
The drop in energy related CO2 emissions occurred whilst the US economy was growing during 2012. A drop in energy intensity is associated with this decline in emissions, despite the economic growth experienced by the nation. The overall decline in emissions and growth in economy has lead to a 5.1% decline in energy use per dollar of GDP.
A mild heating season is also a key factor to the lower energy demand last year and the related emissions drop. Half the decline came from the residential sector.
The next biggest decline in energy use last year, after the residential sector was transportation which saw a 22% decline in energy use. More energy efficient vehicles are entering the market and miles travelled last year were flat compared to 2011. Transportation sector emissions last year remained below the comparable level for 2007 in each month of the year.
The combined reduction in energy use per dollar of GDP and the carbon intensity of the energy supply meant that the overall carbon intensity of the economy declined 6.5% last year. This is the largest drop in overall carbon intensity since records began in 1949.
Key drivers of emissions growth
Since the comparable year of 2007, several key drivers that influence emissions growth have changed:
- Per capita output declined in 2008 and 2009.
- The carbon intensity of the energy supply declined by 1% or more in four of the last five years.
- Increased use of natural gas for electricity generation in high efficiency combined cycle plants and increased in renewable energy generation, especially wind, have contributed to the decline.
Reasons for drop in energy intensity since 2007
The causes of a drop in energy intensity since 2007 include:
- The weather.
- Industrial output levels.
- Vehicle miles travelled were lower.
- Vehicle fleet efficiency improved.
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