Carbon emissions up after five year decline

After a five-year decline, CO2 emissions in the US are on the rise, according to the latest data from the US Energy Information Administration.


CO2 emissions from fossil fuel consumption had been declining since their record high in 2007 and were 12.52 percent lower in 2012 than they had been five years earlier. However, they increased by 2.39 percent in 2013 compared to 2012. Moreover, for the first two months of 2014, they increased by 7.45 percent compared to the same period in 2013.


A major share of the increase appears to be due to expanded use of coal. Coal-related CO2 emissions rose 4.17 percent in 2013 compared to 2012 and are up by 11.93 percent for January-February 2014 compared to those months in 2013. Coal accounted for 31.93 percent of CO2 emissions in 2013.


However, CO2 emissions from natural gas also rose: 2.13 percent in 2013 compared to 2012, and 9.97 percent for the first two months of 2014 compared to January-February 2013. Natural gas accounted for 25.79 percent of CO2 emissions in 2013.


Petroleum-related CO2 emissions (42.07 percent of the total in 2013) rose 1.29 percent from 2012 to 2013 and were up 1.94 percent in winter 2014 compared to early 2013.


Further, the increase in CO2 emissions is evident in all end-use sectors. Comparing calendar year 2013 to calendar year 2012 as well as the first two months of 2014 to the first two months of 2013, EIA data indicate that CO2 emissions from energy consumption grew as follows:


  • Residential sector: 4.79 percent and 15.32 percent
  • Commercial sector: 2.79 percent and 10.47 percent
  • Industrial sector: 2.58 percent and 5.18 percent
  • Transportation sector: 0.60 percent and 1.07 percent
  • Electric power sector: 0.88 percent and 11.48 percent


In addition, EIA reports that biomass, though only accounting for CO2 emissions equal to 6 percent of those from fossil fuels, also registered an increase: 6.09 percent in 2013 and 1.92 percent in 2014.