• US carbon emissions now lower than 1993 level

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      Patrick Lavery

      Combustion Industry News Editor

Carbon emissions in the US continue to fall, as new data from the country’s Energy Information Administration shows. Emissions in 2017 decreased by 0.9% after a fall of around 2% in 2016 and 3% in 2015. (This followed rises in 2013 and 2014 and falls in 2011 and 2012.) The 0.9% fall is equivalent to 47 million metric tonnes, with total US emissions being 5,142 million tonnes in 2017, the lowest output since 1993. If emissions fell by a further 2% next year, the US would be producing less CO2than in 1990. The 2017 fall came despite “real” GDP increasing by 2.3%, and the EIA states that CO2emissions per unit of GDP (the carbon intensity of the economy) decreased 3.1%, probably mostly attributable to energy efficiency measures and gas firing replacing coal firing. In fact, total emissions from natural gas were higher than those from coal for the second year in a row. Over the last 12 years, as the data shows, switching to natural gas firing from other fossil fuels has resulted in 58% more emissions reductions than those from “non-carbon power generation”, but last year the difference was narrower, at 7%, which may indicate that renewables will in the future be the primary power generation sector factor in US carbon emissions reductions. Since 2005, total US emissions have fallen 14%, which would be a good step towards the 26-28% that the US had pledged to cut by 2025 under the Paris Agreement, but from which the country has subsequently withdrawn. Whether the country will meet the target regardless of being part of the Agreement as it did with its Kyoto Protocol target remains to be seen.