Sunday, December 09, 2012

Surprise Side Effect Of Shale Gas Boom: A Plunge In U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions

In the first quarter of this year, U.S. carbon emissions hit a 20-year low. As Figure 1 below demonstrates, the U.S. has observed substantial reductions in CO2 emissions over the last five years. These reductions contrast with the increases in CO2 emissions that the Energy Information Administration forecasted in 1998 when the U.S. was considering committing to CO2 emissions reductions in the Kyoto Agreement. At the time of these discussions, the EIA estimated that CO2 emissions would increase at a rate of approximately 1.3 percent annually through 2020. In fact, to reach the Kyoto Agreement target for 2012, the U.S. would have needed to reduce CO2 emissions to 7 percent below 1990 levels—to approximately 4,700 million metric tons.

Fast forward to 2012: The U.S. achieved approximately 70% of the CO2 emissions reductions targeted under Kyoto (as compared to the 1998 EIA CO2 forecast). That’s substantial progress. A major factor in CO2 emission reduction is shale gas, which, with the continued displacement/retirement of coal plants, has the potential to provide even more CO2 reduction benefits in the future.

The full article and documentation is here.

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