Published: Fri, January 11, 2019
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More heating and fuel pushes US carbon emissions up in 2018

More heating and fuel pushes US carbon emissions up in 2018

New research estimates that in 2018 climate change-causing carbon dioxide emissions rose sharply in the United States, an increase of 3.4%, the largest increase in eight years. Output was up. And now an estimate by the Rhodium Group, an independent research firm, shows that Carbon dioxide emissions were way up.

2018 is an anomaly because each year, since 2015, USA carbon emissions had been decreasing, if modestly, as the nation worked to reach its commitments to the Paris Climate Agreement.

The Trump administration, which has announced its intent to leave the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change, is relaxing Obama-era rules on emissions from power plants and vehicles as it seeks to boost production of oil, gas and coal.

Biodiesel-blended heating oil known as Bioheat is one effective drop-in solution for reducing noxious and greenhouse gas emissions from buildings, which is an important sector considering Rhodium Group's research demonstrates that the largest growth in USA carbon emissions a year ago took place in buildings and industry.

The the world's second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases (GHGs), behind China, and followed by the European Union and India.

The researchers note that 2019 will probably not repeat such an increase, but the findings underscore the country's challenges in reducing greenhouse gas output. The U.S. ranks number two on the list of the world's countries by Carbon dioxide emissions; China is first, and India is the third.

Now, that means the United States will need to drop "energy-related carbon missions by 2.6% on average over the next seven years" - and possibly even faster - to meet that goal. "That is significantly faster than the 1.2% average annual reduction between 2005 and 2017". "It is certainly feasible, but will likely require a fairly significant change in policy in the very near future and/or extremely favorable market and technological conditions", researchers concluded. "Meanwhile, states, cities, and grassroots leaders will keep driving down emissions by retiring coal plants and replacing them with renewable energy, and that is progress he can't stop". The report noted the 2018 rise was topped only by a 2010 increase of 3.6%, as the economy recovered from recession. There are fewer trucks and planes shipping goods and people. However, a demand in growth for trucking increased the demand for diesel by 3.1 percent, while an increase in demand for air travel increased the demand for jet fuel by 3 percent. Policies to limit greenhouse gas emissions started under the Obama administration are now being halted and even reversed under President Trump.

Despite this, there is little to cheer in the U.S. data for those concerned with climate change on a global scale.

"The US was already off track in meeting its Paris Agreement targets".

The latest emissions data indicate that this is unlikely to happen.

Trump administration officials have said that emissions can waiver from year to year depending on the economy, but that the country can both cut emissions and enjoy a strong economy at the same time. A substantial increase in the demand for electricity previous year also was met by natural gas.

Mr Trump has rolled back a number of his predecessor's environmental regulations since taking office, appointing climate change sceptics and industry leaders to head U.S. environmental agencies. Last month, the EPA said limiting emissions of mercury and other toxins from coal- and oil-fired power plants is not cost-effective and should not be considered "appropriate and necessary".

Media captionNo more beef?

These "forgotten sectors", as the Rhodium authors call them in their report, together make up about a third of U.S. carbon dioxide, with industrial sources contributing 22% and buildings 11% in 2016, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. House also said the report shows the US has not yet "successfully decoupled USA emissions growth from economic growth".

The US jump also marks a worldwide trend: 2018 saw an all-time high for global Carbon dioxide emissions and was the fourth warmest year on record. Commercial and residential buildings generated 10% more emissions.

The American Petroleum Institute, the top lobbying organisation for the USA oil and gas industry, says it does not take a position on forming a carbon tax.

The construction and industry sectors also saw sizable emission increases. Outside of the power sector, transportation, industry and buildings all increased their emissions as well, according to the estimates.

"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.

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