US Greenhouse gas emissions drop to lowest level in 15 years

As first highlighted by World Climate Report and later by WUWT last week:  Now its your electric ice maker in your fridge that’s killing the planet, meanwhile CO2 emissions fall significantly in the USA …this Financial Times story citing the same EIA report is getting some widespread press. It’s all in the headline I suppose.

U.S. Greenhouse Gases Drop to 15-Year Low

Here’s the most eye opening point. World Climate Report took the EIA data for total CO2 emissions from the USA, and graphed it against the CO2 emission data for the same period from China:


Figure 1. Annual carbon dioxide emissions from the United States (blue) and China (red), 1990-2009 (data source, EIA).
===============================================================

Matthew Kennard
Financial Times
April 19, 2011

Greenhouse gas emissions in the US dropped to their lowest level in 15 years in 2009 as the impact of the financial crisis led to decreases in fuel and electricity consumption, according to newly published figures.

In 2009, the US saw its emissions of the six main greenhouses gases drop 6 per cent year-on-year to 6,633m metric tonnes, the lowest total since 1995. Despite that annual fall, emissions rose by more than 7.3 per cent between 1990 and 2009.

The figures, released by the Environmental Protection Agency, are likely to be seized upon by Republicans as evidence that there is no need for further regulation of carbon emissions. The GOP has embarked on a campaign in recent months to strip the EPA of its ability to regulate hydrocarbons as well as other pollutants.

A Republican-sponsored bill recently passed by the House has been viewed as a wide-ranging attack on the EPA. The proposed legislation argues that carbon dioxide was not mentioned in the Clean Air Act which gave the EPA legal authority to regulate air pollutants.

Full article here h/t to Dr. Leif Svalgaard

Also, this graph of income versus CO2 tells a powerful story.

http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/eia_percapita_income.png?w=640

Why are we still seeing demands from the EPA for cuts in the USA? Looks like a “Powershift” to me. Let that socialist network and NASA’s Dr. James Hansen go protest CO2 emissions in China. Dr. Hansen has some experience with being arrested in such protests, I’m sure he wouldn’t mind trying out the Chinese legal system to broaden his CV.

Just for fun, WUWT readers should post links to the FT story or the (March2011) report from the US Energy Information Administration (PDF) on the usual agenda driven climate blogs out there and see how many can tolerate it.

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60 Responses to US Greenhouse gas emissions drop to lowest level in 15 years

  1. Bob Diaz says:

    It would be interesting to see a graph of the total emissions of US and China. The rise in China’s emissions appears to be greater than our reduction.

  2. Mike Bromley says:

    Truth. Truth. Truth. Did I mention truth? Just in case I overlooked it…Truth!
    This blog must continue its good works at all costs. The institutionalized idio-lunacy that passes for ‘concern for the planet’ is killing us.

  3. MarkW says:

    How long before one of the warmistas tries to claim that this drop is the reason why temperatures haven’t been rising for the last decade?

  4. George E. Smith says:

    Somehow my post got transported. why not figure out the US CO2 emissions divided by the gross domestic product. Easiest way to cut CO2 emissions is to simply stop producing anything; including food.

  5. johnboy says:

    All this does not matter//Obama just wants control over all.

  6. Twiggy says:

    They were right all along it is all about anthropogenic CO2…it snowed for the last three nights and has been in the twenties every morning, barely reaching high thirties in the day. It worked to cool the planet. Why didn’t we think of a strickened economy sooner, it would have saved billions in politicized research.

  7. Douglas DC says:

    If Hansen protested in China he’d be making little rocks out of bigger rocks for the next 20 years….

  8. DR says:

    the biggest drop looks to match the economy since Obama has been in office :)

  9. Sarge says:

    Is this more evidence that CO2 levels follow, rather than lead, temperature changes (blinks innocently…)

  10. Dave Wendt says:

    The alarmists will likely argue that the decline was mostly due to the serious drop in the economy from the 2008 financial debacle and that we still need to take action to curtail CO2 emissions. Actually I hope they do, because it will prove what I have always maintained, which is that the only realistic way to curtail CO2 emissions is by inflicting horrendous damage on our economy and on the economy of the entire world. Although the vast majority of the world’s population is hopelessly ignorant about humanity’s role in the planetary climate, if they can be made aware of the incredible price the alarmists expect them to pay for very little protection from far distant and mostly illusory disasters the wheels may truly begin to fall off the CAGW wagon.

  11. Owen says:

    Give the warmist cult some time and they’ll rig the figures to make it look like C02 emissions have increased. They’ve had plenty of experience doing it with temperature data, it should be a piece of cake for them to ‘enhance’ the C02 emissions data.

  12. DirkH says:

    A lot of American (and German etc.) jobs are now in China, where no EPA or Kyoto regulation stops them emitting as much CO2 as needed in the job; probably more as they don’t always use the most modern machinery. And the German PV and wind power boom surely drives up CO2 emissions in China as a lot of the things are produced over there. Strangely the left-green movement ignores this or, even worse, points out that we are only “exporting” our emissions and should thus emit even less CO2.

    Looks like they are really bent on destroying the West. Maybe our leftist-green movements are infiltrated and paid by the Chinese. (Seriously, this is a possibility. The West German SPD, social democrats, were infiltrated by the East German Stasi. It is a kind of operations that a secretive, autocratic regime can easily do and could give them a lot of bang for the buck.)

  13. Gary Swift says:

    The last time I saw carbon dioxide emission numbers for Europe, it looked like they have improved their carbon emissions by about the same amount as the US over the past couple decades. Of course, since they are in basically the same financial mess that we are, that makes sense. However, they are the ones with the great big cap and trade scheme, and we have nothing. So, I gotta ask; Has the cap and trade scheme been worth the cost so far? lololol.

  14. Joe Prins says:

    The underwater government of the Maldives has managed to increase their Co2 emissions by roughly 52% since 2005. Probably all that jet travel to Copenhagen and Cancun did it.

  15. DirkH says:

    Gary Swift says:
    April 19, 2011 at 11:46 am
    “The last time I saw carbon dioxide emission numbers for Europe, it looked like they have improved their carbon emissions by about the same amount as the US over the past couple decades. Of course, since they are in basically the same financial mess that we are, that makes sense. However, they are the ones with the great big cap and trade scheme, and we have nothing. So, I gotta ask; Has the cap and trade scheme been worth the cost so far? lololol.”

    Gary, the Kyoto treaty was basically penned by a German Bundestag commission and exactly adapted to the German situation; it was not a coincidence that we just had to kill the old polluting (not CO2; real pollution like SO2 and soot) industries of Ex East Germany and be done with it. After that, all the government did was issue a lot of carbon permits for free for the CO2-emitting industries. To reduce CO2 emissions the number of permits has to drop but this hasn’t happened by now.

    Kyoto was a ruse; the Australians and the UK and various other countries fell for it.

  16. ew-3 says:

    Douglas DC says:
    April 19, 2011 at 11:27 am
    If Hansen protested in China he’d be making little rocks out of bigger rocks for the next 20 years….
    ———————————————————————————
    I suspect he’d probably try to convince them that the rocks in the past were bigger then they are now so he wouldn’t have to make them smaller manually.

  17. kramer says:

    Interesting that China’s CO2 curve took an abrupt upswing around 2000. In Oct of 2000, Clinton and the Republican congress signed PNTR which gave China Permanent Normalized Trade Relations. Right after that, the number of manufacturing jobs dropped in the US:

    (Here’s the link to the graph
    in case my attempt at posting a picture doesn’t work)

    Here’s a paper from Joe Lieberman that says we lost 2.7 million manufacturing jobs to offshoring since 2000:
    “We have seen this global outsourcing phenomena in the manufacturing sector where 2.7 million jobs have disappeared since 2000.”

    So why did we give China PNTR? I’ve read some reasons from Republicans and they said that our companies would not be able to compete against the lower priced China imports.
    Why did Clinton give China PNTR? I believe it was political payback. There were allegations in the 90′s that the communist Chinese government had given the DNC and Clinton illegal contributions. Well, if this is true (and I believe it is), then it’s obvious that PNTR was payback for those contributions.

    Clinton and Gore also tried to pay the communist Chinese back with Kyoto.

    Gotta love how the democrats have our China’s best interest at heart…

  18. Tom Fuller says:

    The DOE said when they released energy consumption figures showing the same drop that about one third of it was due to the recession, another third due to fuel switching due to natural gas and the final third due to other efficiencies achieved.

    You can argue that they’re full of smoke, but that is what they reported. As a whole bunch (22? 26?) of old coal power plants were retired in 2009, that had a material impact.

    This year’s numbers should be interesting.

  19. ZT says:

    I guess the obvious conclusion is that CO2 drives not only climate but also per capita income, right?

  20. David L says:

    The warmists should be celebrating!!!! If only gasoline would go to $5 or $7 a gallon. Economy will drop even further along with CO2 emissions. Less driving, cost of everything will go up, and maybe unemployment will increase as well. Eventually even the Chinese CO2 will drop because there will be less consumers from the West. And the happy news in all this? No need to regulate or otherwise worry about CO2 because it will nosedive. And the polar bears will be happy. This is great news!!! /sarc

  21. David L says:

    MarkW says:
    April 19, 2011 at 11:14 am
    How long before one of the warmistas tries to claim that this drop is the reason why temperatures haven’t been rising for the last decade?”

    They can try, but they are also on record that it would take 1000 years to go back to normal.

  22. oldseadog says:

    Having waded through the eia document, there seems to be no reference to H2O as a GG, and I understood that H2O was responsible for about 95% of the theoretical “Greenhouse Effect”.
    Am I missing something?

  23. Roy UK says:

    Would it be possible for someone to point me to a graph of the UK Greenhouse gas emissions? Even better if it was shown next to the plots of US and China.

    We are already spending far too much on reducing our emissions and China are still increasing theirs. It seems a pointless and costly exercise to me.

    But I am sure the scientists and politicians know best. /sarc

  24. Jean Bosseler says:

    Where in the graph is the ‘china mystery blip’?

    http://www.sciencemag.org/content/319/5859/37.full.pdf?sid=9aaa10fa-23d8-4af1-b836-cce55c409410

    I have another graph showing it in one year and it was in WIKI and disappeared!

    GDP raising 40% with emissions constant is impossible.

    Cheating?

  25. Mustafa says:

    So, all this proves is that we know how to reduce CO2 emissions — eliminate roughly 9 million jobs and push the unemployment rate above 10 percent. Why would we want to that is a different question. Although, if I recall correctly, Nancy Pelosi claimed that people living on unemployment compensation would be free to pursue more creative activities! And, of course, they would be grateful to the politicians responsible for providing them with unemployment compensation.

  26. vboring says:

    Considering how much of the stuff we buy in the US comes from China, we probably still “consume” more CO2 than China does.

    Also, folks here should be the first to be skeptical of CO2 vs economic activity correlations. The stronger correlation is between fuel prices and miles traveled. Unsurprisingly, CO2 emissions decrease when carbon fuel prices increase.

  27. Ranger Rick says:

    This is completely consistant with AGW. The temperature drop PRECEEDS the CO2 drop as it has for thousands of years. Oh wait, CO2 is still rising in China. Is the temp still rising over there? Never mind, guess they can’t tie it to AGW after all. Darn – I bet ALaGOREc is really bummed out now. Keep up the great work Anthony!!!

  28. John Shaw says:

    Now take that figure 12 graph and add a GDP index. You’ll find the 2009 GDP Index would be about 250. This means we accomplished 2.5 times the economic output while only increasing CO2 by 30%. This doesn’t mean we can do better. But we have already found the low hanging fruit.

  29. Robertvdl says:

    This also includes US Greenhouse gas emissions in war zones all over the world.

  30. Norm Milliard says:

    The USA has a growing population compared to most European countries where population growth is often negative or stagnant. As a result the per capita carbon usage has probably dropped more significantly in the USA than Europe.

  31. Dan in California says:

    The important thing to remember is that USA did not sign the Kyoto treaty, therefore bad country and naughty people. China DID sign the treaty, therefore good country and good people. Never mind the actual CO2 emissions in China are rising far faster than in the USA, what matters is who signed and who did not.

    /sarc

  32. Paul Deacon says:

    Anthony – a juxtaposition with income per capita for the USA and China over the same period might be informative.

  33. pat says:

    Of course. We hear time after time from this White House how great the Chinese are and how bad America is. Infrastructure development is fine for China. A curse in America.

  34. Latitude says:

    Can’t be….

    All of the cold and snow this past winter was caused by CO2 making it warmer……../snark

  35. Marion says:

    So a massive increase in China’s CO2 emissions encouraged by EU policies which have effected a migration of industry from the relatively clean power stations in the west to the dirty and inefficient power plants in the east.

    http://ucsdnews.ucsd.edu/thisweek/2008/03/17_chinacarbonemission.asp

    You’d think the greenies would be rather concerned but no not a bit – they think we’re ‘doomed by democracy’ and are rather envious of China because “it’s not a democracy”!!!

    Listen to BBC radio 4′s programme “Doomed by Democracy”

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00sfwtc

  36. mikemUK says:

    Douglas DC @11.27

    . . . .and if the Chinese have a sense of humour the bigger rocks would be coal.

  37. Agile Aspect says:

    The existence of a “greenhouse” gas is an urban legend – unless you’re suggesting each molecule of gas is enclosed in a little glass house.

    In most cases, the proponents of “greenhouse” gases are simply clueless on how a real “greenhouse” works on Earth – and usually confuse the small increase heat capacity of the gas (with CO2 it’s the wagging in and out of the plane of the molecule at 10 microns) with the “greenhouse” effect.

  38. Pooh, Dixie says:

    Just for jollies, compare the graph of the CO2 levels for 2000 – 2009 to a graph of the CO2 levels during the Great Depression.

    Surely, the learned Science Czar has done so, and knows that de-industrializing the United States is also the path to fundamentally changing the country.

  39. P. Solar says:

    “All this does not matter//Obama just wants control over all.”

    I’ve no idea what he “wants” but what he does is dictated by the greater powers that decided to let him be president, like those on the receiving end of the 100bn bail-out payments, if anyone can find out who that was.

  40. Ross says:

    I haven’t read the full article ( behind the paywall) but I would like to know what the comparitive electricity consumption figures and similarly fuel consumption figures are before saying it was due to a downturn in the US economy. (ie it could simply be dropping due to the temp. drop or leveling over the past decade). The other question I’d ask is –how are these emissions figures derived / measured.

  41. George E. Smith says:

    “”””” Dan in California says:
    April 19, 2011 at 1:32 pm
    The important thing to remember is that USA did not sign the Kyoto treaty, therefore bad country and naughty people. China DID sign the treaty, therefore good country and good people. Never mind the actual CO2 emissions in China are rising far faster than in the USA, what matters is who signed and who did not. “””””

    Well I believe that history actually records, that the USA DID sign the Kyoto treaty; a chap named Albert Gore, who was then the VP of the USA, in fact signed the Kyoto accords.

    BUT the United States Senate; who alone can RATIFY treaties on behalf of the USA, in a 95 to zero vote expressing the “Sense” of the Senate declined to Ratify it. Subsequently the evil George W. Bush was elected to be President of the United States of America, following William Jefferson Clinton; under whose Administration Albert Gore served as VP, and President pro-tem of the Senate.

    Ah yes; we should of course expect that newly elected President George W. Bush should rush to promote the Kyoto treaty and the USA’s acceptance of it, knowing full well that the US Senate, had declined to ratify it by a vote of 95 to zero. I believe the other five were either absent or abstentions.

    That evil George W. Bush has been reviled ever since for not promoting the Kyoto Treaty, that the entire Senate had already rejected; Yes he clearly had the sense of the feelings of the majority sentiment of the people of the USA, as already expressed by their Senators.

  42. Dave Wendt says:

    ZT says:
    April 19, 2011 at 12:30 pm
    I guess the obvious conclusion is that CO2 drives not only climate but also per capita income, right?

    You’re not supposed to mention that, but it is true. See this graph from the Gapminder site

    http://tinyurl.com/4y39hjt

    They have a really great database and you can run per cap CO2 against a wide assortment of metrics of human well being. There is almost always a strong positive correlation.

  43. R. de Haan says:

    CO2 emissions don’t say anything anout climate change but they do great as a proxy for
    prosperity. We soon reach the poverty level.

  44. rbateman says:

    The graph of US and China emissions show where both are headed:
    The US is headed for irrelevance while China is clearly in the drivers seat.
    We gave China ‘most favored nation’ status.
    We now have earned the dubious honor of ‘most gullible nation’ status.

  45. Marcos Cantu says:

    so the US has already almost complied with the Kyoto Treaty without actually being a party to it? Nice. how are countries that are signatories doing with their CO2 emissions?

  46. Phil's Dad says:

    Just in case any visiting “straw clutchers” want to attribute the static or falling temperatures of the last 13 1/2 years to these figures; the drop in USA levels are not reflected in the world wide accumulated CO2 figures (as I am sure no-one would expect them to be so quickly).

    ftp://ftp.cmdl.noaa.gov/ccg/co2/trends/co2_mm_mlo.txt
    (or on WUWT’s Atmosphere page if you prefer)

    CO2 continues to rise. Temperatures don’t. Travesty.

  47. James Sexton says:

    R. de Haan says:
    April 19, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    CO2 emissions don’t say anything anout climate change but they do great as a proxy for
    prosperity. We soon reach the poverty level.
    =============================================

    I’ve been saying that for years. Worse, when this nation has no money, the first things that go are our altruistic ventures elsewhere. Purposeful?

  48. Wade says:

    Speaking of our evil ice makers:

    http://www.judicialwatch.org/blog/2011/apr/feds-will-regulate-ice-makers-save-climate

    (When I posted this, I had to use a cached version to read the page. http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:http://www.judicialwatch.org/blog/2011/apr/feds-will-regulate-ice-makers-save-climate&hl=en&rlz=1B3GGLL_en___US384&strip=1 )

    You can’t make this stuff up. When someone believes CO2 and those who have the audacity to make life better are somehow worse than Satan, nothing is too far-fetched. Is it too much to ask people to stop and see if something makes sense? I guess it is.

  49. Jimmy Haigh says:

    Gavin? Are you there? Gavin? GAVIN!?
    Mike? Phil? Keith? Anybody?
    Mad Dhog? Anybody there? It’s OK – you can breathe in now. We didn’t mean it. CO2′s OK. Really…..

  50. Political Junkie says:

    No question, CO2 emissions and standard of living are closely correlated.

    The “stars” of emission reductions are economies that have crashed – Eastern Europe is doing very well by Kyoto standards. The fact that the economies collapsed and the people were suffering was irrelevant and did not factor into the equation.

    It is also clear that regulations that drive production and jobs offshore make US statistics look good, but actually increase CO2 emissions by transfering the production to China where the energy efficiency is lower. We then compound the problem by paying the energy cost of shipping these products back to the US.

    “Environmentalists” seem to think that this makes sense!

  51. Keith Minto says:

    Take a look at Table 2.1 in http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/environment/emissions/carbon/ . Transport, residential and commercial sectors were flat, it is the industrial sector that declined from 35 Trillion BTU’s to approx 28 T BTU’s.

    The engine of the US economy declined, now that is a worry.

  52. Mike Jonas says:

    Given that global temperatures have failed to rise for a decade, and have actually fallen slightly, would it be reasonable to interpret the graph of US & China emissions (above) as finally proving what the AGWers have been saying – namely:
    - cutting emissions really can stop temperatures rising, and the temperatures can even anticipate the cut and stop rising before it happens.
    - CO2 emissions from developing countries have no effect, only developed countries’ emissions affect climate.

  53. RayG says:

    Eureka, I found it. (As a native Californian I feel that I am entitled to say that.) Forget about CO2 sequestration. I say recycle it. Use the energy from solar farms and wind farms to breakdown the CO2 into C and O2. Recycle the O2 into medical O and compress the C to form carbon crystals and market them through DeBeers to pay for the the whole enterprise. Voila, problem solved.

  54. Richard111 says:

    Interesting to note the comments on this blog are showing an increasing awareness of the background of the AGW hype. It is not about climate, it is about power and control, total control.
    The upper echelons of the world governments are currently in dispute over who will take on the mantle of world president. /sarc

  55. Monroe says:

    In BC we have a large “Carbon ” tax on our gas. That means we in the rural areas can drive to work less, causing less pollution. Soon that tax is going up so we can drive to work even less than before. I try hard to make a larger contribution by standing very still and exhaling as little as possible.

  56. John Shaw says:

    Keith Minto says:
    April 19, 2011 at 6:57 pm

    “it is the industrial sector that declined from 35 Trillion BTU’s to approx 28 T BTU’s.

    The engine of the US economy declined, now that is a worry.”

    ====

    Not all of that decline in BTU’s is due to our economic situation. American industry has been focused for years on efficiency. It is efficiency and productivity that has driven our economy. People who don’t believe we are already doing a lot with less fuel are just wrong.

  57. Tom Eyre says:

    Although not stated in the report,it would be fair to assume that the numbers for CO2 are based on carbon fuels used.It has always struck me as strange that vast dissertations are made on multi-temperature readings around the World [including assumed values] we still depend on a single reading at Mauna Loa, a volcano in the middle of the Pacific.
    If Beck et Al were even partially correct, it seem to me that we should be measuring in more than one place and certainly at more than one altitude.Has this single value found to be typical of the whole planet? I would be interested in why this has not been addressed more. It would seem logical that the CO2 balance varies considerably over jungles, oceans,deserts, ice caps etc.

  58. Mike Jonas says:

    Tom Eyre – I’m sure you will be pleased to hear that CO2 is in fact measured at a number of places around the globe, from the Arctic to the South Pole.
    See eg. http://scrippsco2.ucsd.edu/data/data.html
    From the time that I have spent examining the figures, it seems that CO2 mixes well across the planet within something like 6-9 months, so the Mauna Loa figures are reasonably representative of global CO2 for most purposes.
    I would also say that the influence of the oceans on global CO2 appears to be greater than is often recognised. During the PDO-driven warming of the late 20thC, the oceans absorbed about half of all fossil fuel emissions of CO2, yet the warmer parts of the oceans were still significant net emitters of CO2. Now that the PDO is in a cooling phase again, I am expecting the rate of increase of atmospheric CO2 to start dropping, regardless of fossil fuel use.

  59. Keith Minto says:

    Tom Eyre 20 April @ 1:12,

    There are other readings that show a similar pattern.In the Southern Hemisphere, Cape Grim on the west coast of Tasmania is an example. http://www.cmar.csiro.au/research/images/cg_CO2.png

  60. Dan in California says:

    RayG says: April 19, 2011 at 11:15 pm
    Eureka, I found it. (As a native Californian I feel that I am entitled to say that.) Forget about CO2 sequestration. I say recycle it. Use the energy from solar farms and wind farms to breakdown the CO2 into C and O2. Recycle the O2 into medical O and compress the C to form carbon crystals and market them through DeBeers to pay for the the whole enterprise. Voila, problem solved.”

    Ray, I don’t know if you were being sarcastic, but it’s really, really, hard to dissociate CO2 into C and O2. Nuclear submarines that have a lot of power separate CO2 from air using thermal differential absorbtion with monoethanol amine as a carrier. They then compress the CO2 and eject it overboard. Replacement O2 is made by electrolyzing sea water. The ISS space station does a similar thing with molecular sieve material. Replacement O2 is lifted from the ground or electrolyzed from H2O (The Space Shuttle has lots of spare water).

    NASA has put a lot of money into developing a closed loop CO2 system for long term space travel, and it’s still nowhere near feasible. The two processes studied are Bosch and Sabatier. Look them up online if you’re interested. I myself worked on an idea to add a chemical to liquid CO2 that would make it sufficiently ionic to be amenable to electrolysis into CO and O2. No luck on that either.

    As for your comment about compressing hexagonal carbon (coal and graphite) into tetrahedral carbon (diamonds), I assume that was a joke. Yes, it can be done, but at a cost not much less than buying them from DeBeers.

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