According to the US Energy Information Administration (EPA), US energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in 2016 totalled 5170 million metric t, 1.7% below 2015 levels, after dropping 2.7% between 2014 and 2015. These recent decreases are consistent with a decade-long trend.
Oil and natural gas consumption were higher in 2016 than in 2015, while coal consumption was significantly lower. Consistent with changes in fuel consumption, energy-related CO2 emissions in 2016 from petroleum and natural gas increased 1.1% and 0.9%, respectively, while coal-related emissions decreased 8.6%.
Early EPA estimates indicate that gross domestic product (GDP) grew at a rate of 1.6% in 2016, down from 2.6% in 2015. Taken together with a 1.7% decline in energy-related CO2, the 1.6% estimate of economic growth implies a 3.3% decline in the carbon intensity of the US economy. In 2015, carbon intensity of the economy had decreased by 5.3%.
The US transportation sector was the only consumption sector where CO2 emissions increased (by 1.9%) in 2016.
CO2 emissions from the electric power sector fell by 4.9% in 2016. A significant reduction in coal use for electricity generation was offset by increased generation from natural gas and renewable sources.
Weather also affected the level of energy use and CO2 emissions in 2016: more energy is used for heating than for cooling, warm years can translate to less energy consumption if increased cooling needs during warm summers are less than the reduced heating needs during warm winters. Based on preliminary data, 2016 is expected to have had 10% fewer heating degree days and 13% more cooling degree days than normal. For more information, click here.
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