After three years of declining carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, the United States had a dramatic uptick in such emission in 2018, according to a recent report from Rhodium Group, an independent economic and trend research organization.
The New York City-based research firm estimates CO2 emissions increased 3.4 percent in 2018, which is the second-largest annual gain in more than two decades. This uptick in CO2 emissions comes despite a record number of coal-fired power plants retiring this past year.
The report found that natural gas led the replacement of coal-fired power and supplied the growth in electricity demand, which increased 1.9 percent during the past year.
The transportation sector remained the largest source of U.S. emissions with the growth of diesel and jet fuel demand. And the report cited limited progress in developing de-carbonization strategies, which led the buildings and industrial sector to year-on-year emissions gains.
However, despite the 2018 uptick in emissions, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) anticipates that U.S. CO2 emissions will resume a downward trend in 2019. In a recent report, the EIA forecasted that CO2 emissions will decline by 1.3 percent in 2019 and by 0.5 percent in 2020.
The EIA report cites colder winter weather and warmer summer weather as reasons for the 2018 uptick in CO2 emissions. The 2018 uptick may have been a one-year exception to the recent CO2 emission trend. Even as global emissions have increased 50 percent since 1990, U.S. CO2 emissions are at the lowest level in a generation. With the increased use of natural gas, CO2 emissions have decreased 8 percent between 2010 and 2017.