Tuesday, August 13, 2013

US 2013 Carbon Emissions Nearly Double EIA Projections--Up 4%

It was the era of plunging US carbon emissions--2007 to 2012--when emissions plunged from 6.02 to 5.29 billion tons.  Just in 2012, carbon emissions fell an amazing 3.9%.  But the era of plunging emissions is over, at least temporarily so.

Here is what the recent EIA Short Term Energy Outlook says about the 2013 and 2014 carbon path:

U.S. Energy‐Related Carbon Dioxide Emissions. EIA estimates that carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels declined by 3.9 percent in 2012, and projects increases of 2.4 percent in 2013 and 0.3 percent in 2014. The increase in emissions over the forecast period primarily reflects the projected increase in coal use for electricity generation, especially in 2013 as it rebounds from the 2012 decline.

Given actual emissions in the first 4 months of 2013, the EIA 2.4% might be the best case scenario.
Indeed, 2013 emissions are up 4% in the first 4 months, when compared to the same period in 2012.

Emissions from coal are up 11%, as coal-fired electricity is recovering market share.  Emissions from natural gas are up nearly 6% too, as America used more gas to stay warm in the first 4 months of 2013 than in 2012, when temperatures hit all-time record highs in much of the country.  So far, emissions from oil are the only small bright spot--down about 0.5%.

If emissions increase 4% this year, total energy related emissions would jump from 5.29 billion tons to more than 5.5 million tons--a substantial move in the wrong direction.

Is there any good news in the 2013 carbon data? While 2013 carbon emissions to date are significantly above 2012 levels, they do remain slightly below 2011 levels.

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