US carbon dioxide emissions are once again on the rise

James Marshall
January 10, 2019

The findings, published Tuesday by the independent economic research firm Rhodium Group, mean that the United States now has a diminishing chance of meeting its pledge under the 2015 Paris climate agreement to dramatically reduce its emissions by 2025.

Carbon dioxide emissions spiked last year in the United States after three years of decline, according to a study.

The Trump administration is relaxing Obama-era rules on emissions from power plants and vehicles as it seeks to boost production of oil, gas and coal.

"To meet the Paris Agreement target of a 26-28% reduction from 2005 levels by 2025, the USA will need to reduce energy-related Carbon dioxide emissions by 2.6% on average over the next seven years - and faster if declines in other gasses do not keep pace", the report notes.

The last time emissions increased this much was in 2010 when the country was recovering from the Great Recession.

The warnings around climate change now have additional data backing them up: carbon dioxide emissions in the USA were up previous year.

Natural gas emits less greenhouse gas than coal, but has fueled most of last year's rise in electricity demand, beating solar and wind.

"I don't think you would have seen the same increase" without the Trump administration's rollbacks, Trevor Houser, a partner at Rhodium, told the Washington Post.

The nation's industrial sectors saw emissions increase by 5.7 percent.

Emissions have increased because of trucking and air travel, while Carbon dioxide pollution from individual cars was stable compared to 2017.

Many had hoped that carbon cutting actions at state or city level could in some way keep the USA on track to meet its commitments made under the Paris climate agreement.

While the rising emissions are directly tied to a surging economy and particular to energy demands over the last several, Trevor Houser, a partner at Rhodium who worked on the study, told the Post that the increase would not have been as dramatic without the Trump administration's rollback of key Obama-era policies created to confront the climate crisis that the current White House falsely claims does not even exist. In the buildings sector, the reports states emissions come from commercial and residential buildings, a result of fuel oil and natural gas from cooking and heating. Researchers of the report believe this is partly due to a colder winter in 2018 combined with population growth.

Holstein says local governments need to invest in green infrastructure to combat this. The buildings and industrial sectors also both posted big year-on-year emissions gains.

"We expect it to overtake power as the second leading source of emissions in California by 2020 and to become the leading source of emissions in Texas by 2022", the report states.

Currently, the world is 1°C warmer than pre-industrial levels, thanks to human activity.

Emissions were up for the first time since 2015.

Last October, 91 scientists from 40 countries warned that urgent action must be taken to reduce the impact of rising global temperatures across the world, citing that a half degree could make a big difference in the future.

Emissions rose roughly 3.4 percent in 2018, he says. The difference could also significantly lower the likelihood that the Arctic Ocean is without sea ice in the summer.

Despite President Trump's promise to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, the increase means the USA now has a rapidly shrinking window to meet the promises it made under the agreement in 2015.

In other words, an unprecedented pace for the U.S.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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