US greenhouse gas emissions are showing signs of slowing down – but not fast enough

U.S. greenhouse gas emissions rose by about 1.3% in 2022, rebounding for the second year in a row after disruption caused by the pandemic in carbon-intensive industries such as transportation and travel.

That’s according to a preliminary analysis by Rhodium Group, a research firm that tracks annual emissions and the U.S.’s progress towards meeting climate goals.

Emissions fell by around 10.6% in 2020 as the US took the impact of the pandemic into account. As the economy rebounded in 2021, so did US greenhouse gases, which saw a 6.5% increase.

Before the pandemic, emissions were on a slightly downward path. New analysis suggests that emissions have returned to this trendline despite several volatile years.

“Greenhouse gas emissions still have not reached 2019 levels. Potentially, they will never return to those levels. Time will tell on that front,” said Ben King, co-author of the report and associate director in the Energy & Climate practice at Rhodium Group. “We are continuing the downward trajectory. The challenge is that we need big drops.”

Rhodium’s analysis suggests the US is on track to meet its fast-approaching climate goals in 2025 and 2030. Reductions from the landmark climate laws passed by Congress in 2022 – the Infrastructure Act and the Inflation Reduction Act – have yet to go into effect. life. Even then, the United States is projected to fall short of its goals.

“If we stopped today and didn’t adjust policy and just relied on the Inflation Reduction Act, we wouldn’t make it,” said King, who heads the research on federal policy at Rhodium. “Additional policy action will be absolutely necessary to achieve these goals.”

The US aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% from 2005 levels by 2030. The Rhodium analysis suggests the US has taken steps that will reduce emissions by 32% to 42% by 2030, he said king.

Several significant emissions trends have developed over the past year.

For the first time, renewable energy sources overtook coal in electricity production. Wind, solar, hydro and other renewables accounted for about 22% of total electricity, while the share of coal fell to 20%.

However, the gains from cleaner energy sources have been offset by rising building emissions, which increased by around 6% last year, mainly due to the need to heat homes during the relatively cold winter. Emissions from air travel increased and returned to levels similar to 2019.

Rhodium 2022 analysis is preliminary. An independent research group collects real-time data on energy and transport fuel markets to estimate annual emissions.

The EPA publishes official detailed greenhouse gas inventories approximately 15 months after the end of the year. Rhodium analysis is typically accurate to within a few fractions of a percentage point.

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