CO2 emitted by US energy likely to decrease through 2021, EIA predicts

Published on January 22, 2020 by Chris Galford

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The latest short-term energy outlook published by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) notes that CO2 emissions pushed out by U.S. energy should decline each year through 2021, amounting to three years of steady drops.

The trend began with a drop of 2.1 percent in 2019, but the EIA expects emissions to drop by another 2 percent in 2020 and by 1.5 percent in 2021. Supposing this comes to pass, energy-related CO2 emissions will have fallen for seven out of 10 years between 2021 and 2021 and, by the end of 2021, mark the lowest emissions level for the United States since 1991.

These steady declines should also buck the unpleasant surprise of 2018 when weather-related factors caused energy-related CO2 emissions to spike by 2.9 percent.

In terms of petroleum-related CO2 emissions, 2019 brought a slight decline, while the 2020 emissions should be flat, followed by another small decrease in 2021. Natural gas raised emissions by 4.2 percent in 2019 and will likely increase them by another 1.4 percent in 2020, before finally falling 1.7 percent in 2021 due to predictions of warmer weather. Significant drops will be brought about by coal-related CO2, however, where emissions dropped 12.7 percent in 2019 and are predicted to decline by 10.8 percent in 2020 and another 2.7 percent in 2021, due in large part to low natural gas prices.

The EIA attributes the overall declines in CO2 emissions to two factors: less carbon-intensive and more efficient natural gas fired-generation replacing the dirtier coal-fired generation and increasing generation from renewable energy sources.