US decarbonisation efforts lacking as emissions rise 3.4%


After three years of decline, US carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions rose sharply last year.

This is based on a report released by Rhodium Group, Preliminary US Emissions Estimates for 2018.

Preliminary power generation, natural gas, and oil consumption data show emissions increased by 3.4% in 2018.

This marks the second largest annual gain in more than two decades — surpassed only by 2010 when the economy bounced back from the Great Recession.

While a record number of coal-fired power plants were retired last year, natural gas not only beat out renewables to replace most of this lost generation but also fed most of the growth in electricity demand. As a result, power sector emissions overall rose by 1.9%.

The transportation sector held its title as the largest source of US emissions for the third year running, as robust growth in demand for diesel and jet fuel offset a modest decline in gasoline consumption.

The buildings and industrial sectors also both posted big year-on-year emissions gains. Some of this was due to unusually cold weather at the start of the year. But it also highlights the limited progress made in developing decarbonisation strategies for these sectors.

The US was already off track in meeting its Paris Agreement targets. The gap is even wider headed into 2019.

Click here to read more about these emissions trends and the widening gap to Paris Agreement targets.