• Rhodium Group estimates US GHG emissions 6.2% higher in 2021 than 2020, but lower than 2019

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      Patrick Lavery

      Combustion Industry News Editor

Research organization Rhodium Group has released a report estimating that US greenhouse gas emissions rose by 6.2% in 2021 as compared to 2020, a rise which has been widely expected. However, the detail is somewhat more interesting than the overall rise. Driven by higher gas prices, coal-fired electricity generation rose by 17%, while transportation emissions rose 10%; more worryingly, perhaps, the rise in emissions was higher than the rise in gross domestic product, which was estimated at 5.7%.

The overall increase in emissions from the electric power sector was 6.6%, suggesting that although emissions from coal firing rose significantly, other types of power generation contributed little to additional emissions. Both electricity and transport emissions rose by around two-thirds of the amount they fell in 2020, and economy-wide GHG emissions were still 4% below those of 2019. Whether the US can retain 2019 as a peak year for emissions remains to be seen, but to meet climate goals it will almost have to be.

The 2021 estimate by the Rhodium Group has emissions 17.4% below 2005 levels, and the US is aiming for a 50-52% reduction by 2030, meaning huge reductions must be made from this year onwards. This will be made somewhat more difficult if new predictions that the US will break its oil producing record next year prove to be true.