Chart of the week: The US is the leader in CO2 emissions reduction

From the American Enterprise Institute via Twitter. h/t to WUWT reader “Latitude”

Last year the United States had the largest decline in CO2 emissions *in the entire world* for the 9th time this century.

From the June 2018 BP Statistical Review of Global Energy (67th edition) here are some details on C02 emissions in 2017:

1. Global CO2 emissions from energy in 2017 grew by 1.6% (and 426.4 million tons, see data here), rebounding from the stagnant volumes during 2014-2016, and faster than the 10-year average of 1.3%.

2. Declines in CO2 emissions in 2017 were led by the US (-0.5% and 42 million tons, see chart above). This is the ninth time in this century that the US has had the largest decline in emissions in the world. This also was the third consecutive year that emissions in the US declined, though the fall was the smallest over the last three years.

3. Carbon emissions from energy use from the US are the lowest since 1992, the year that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) came into existence. The next largest decline was in Ukraine (-10.1% and 28.1 tons).

4. The largest increase in carbon emissions in 2017 came from China (1.6% and 119 tons), a reversal from the past three years when the largest increases in emissions came from India. China’s emissions in 2017 were 0.3% higher than the previous peak in 2014. China has had the world’s largest increments in carbon emission every year this century except in four years – 2000 and between 2014-16. The next highest increment came from India where emissions rose by 4.4% (93.2 million tons, see chart), though lower than its 10-year average (6% p.a.).

5. Together, China and India accounted for nearly half (212.2 million tons) of the increase in global carbon emissions (426.4 million tons). EU emissions were also up (1.5% and 42.4 million tons, see chart) with just Spain accounting for 44% of the increase in EU emissions. Among other EU members, UK and Denmark reported the lowest carbon emissions in their history.

MP: For that impressive “greening” of America, we can thank the underground oceans of America’s natural gas that are now accessible because of the revolutionary, advanced drilling and extraction technologies of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal/directional drilling, and are increasingly displacing coal for the nation’s electricity generation.

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58 thoughts on “Chart of the week: The US is the leader in CO2 emissions reduction

  1. Nothing surprising here! This trend has been ongoing for some time as the US has moved to gas for electricity generation and India and China continue to burn good old coal to develop their economies. Of course, we know that CO2 isn’t s priblem if sppropriate measures are taken to scrub SOx, NOx and heavy metals from the stacks. The world is doing just fine.

  2. Ukraine, Mexico, South Africa, Venezuela, Columbia. Interesting bedfellows for UK in hall of fame, not sure that’s entirely good news.

    • …not sure that’s entirely good news.

      I would agree, since falling CO2 emissions is generally a good and reliable metric for reduction in wealth, and hence in the standard of living.

      The exception is where energy production involves a roll out of nuclear, or a roll out of fracked gas.

      The standard of living can increase in the US notwithstanding the reduction in CO2 emissions by the US, since this has been achieved by the switch from coal to gas (from fracking).

      Other countries do not enjoy this benefit. For example, the UK has reduced its CO2 emissions by losing its steal and aluminium industries that have been out sourced to India and China, and by dubious (more correctly false) accounting by switching from coal to biomass which is claimed to be CO2 neutral, although in reality leads to an increase in CO2 emissions (because biomass has a lower calorific value compared to coal or gas), and by ever increasing reliance on the inter-connect with Europe, where Europe is emitting CO2 rather than the UK (although some of the energy is supplied by France’s nuclear fleet). There can be little doubt that the UK is poorer than it would have been had it not reduced its CO2 emissions.

  3. Green groups will now concentrate their attacks on China and India:
    Embassy protests!
    Product boycotts!
    Members’ travel & trade bans!
    No wait, they won’t do any of that will they . . .

    • They will even have blow up dolls flying over each country’s Houses of Government????

    • No they won’t. They will point to the fact that China and India are at lower per capita emissions. It’s never been about absolute emissions, …. the social justice warriors are about their warped since of what’s fair. ….. ask your self how many times you’ve heard a leftist say the US uses 40% of the resources but only has 4% of the world population.

      The answer is to stop demonizing coal. We in the states should be using more coal for electricity, and converting cars to natural gas.

      • What is warped about suggesting that emission targets should be about “per capita emissions”? It seems fairer than suggesting that the emission targets for each country should be set independent of the country’s population.

        • How much energy is used per person, is the only fair way to do this.

          Not that “this” is worth doing.

          • False. Countries like Japan, which have been implementing energy efficiency measures for 40 years since the oil shock of 1975, have incredibly high standards of living with very low energy use per person.

    • So askith did: Patrick MJD

      Did the US export it’s industry to China/India like Australia did?

      Actually “No”, the US as a nation didn’t do it …. and “export” is the wrong verb to describe what happened.

      In actuality, it’s a case of “history repeating itself”.

      In the 17th thru the 19th Century, western European citizens were fleeing to North America (USA) because of the ever-increasing taxes and government mandated regulations.

      And during the 20th and 21st Century it has been industry that has been fleeing from North America (USA) because of the ever-increasing taxes and government mandated regulations.

      • Except that many energy intensive businesses are relocating to the US because of the lower energy costs in the US.

  4. American CO2 emissions peaked in 2005 at around 6000 million metric tons per year. Now they’re down to a bit over 5000. That’s a 14% decrease according to this article. It looks like the big decreases are behind us and things are going to level off.

    The more impressive thing is that CO2 emissions have been going down while the GDP (Gross Domestic Product, ie the value of all the goods and services produced in America) has continued to go up. Even if CO2 emissions level off, if the economy continues to improve, we continue to do more with less.

    • commieBob

      Or, like many western countries, are CO2 emissions simply outsourced to China and India?

      Anyone checked where almost any electronic gizmo they use is manufactured?

      New iPhone or laptop anyone?

      Not that it matters as atmospheric CO2 doesn’t warm the world to any meaningful degree.

      Have you seen the number of car manufacturers in China?! And if you scroll down you’ll find a list of joint ventures with BMW, Ford, GM, Nissan, Toyota, VW etc. etc. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_automobile_manufacturers_of_China

      Not sure if the JV’s are for domestic consumption, but somehow, I doubt it.

      Not that I’m saying this is a bad thing, providing the source countries (USA, Germany, Japan etc.) profit from the lower land and labour costs and some of that trickles through to education so the west improves it’s high value, intellectual/financial/legal/pharmaceutical etc. expertise. And, of course, the Chinese can be stopped from reverse engineering everything and flooding the market with supposedly IP protected products.

      • … are CO2 emissions simply outsourced to China and India?

        Over the long term, since the 1960s, that’s true. First it was Japan.

        Recently, until 2005, CO2 emissions had been slowly increasing. The big drop after 2005 is almost entirely due to substituting natural gas for coal.

        Because of automation, energy costs, and other factors, manufacturing, services, and jobs are returning to America. link

    • commieBob

      The more impressive thing is that CO2 emissions have been going down

      Now don’t ya’ll be getttin too excited about those CO2 emissions going “down”, … or “up”, …. or even “sideways” ……. because those “quantity” figures they are touting are little more “fuzzy math” calculated, estimated, guesstimated estimates.

      “DUH”, iffen average near-surface temperatures are not increasing as prophesized, ….. then the guesstimated CO2 emissions surely have to be decreasing.

    • It is partly due to ever increasing efficiency, the outsourcing of various industries to the Far East, and more recently due to fracking. The switch from coal to gas has greatly assisted the reduction in CO2 emissions, without resulting in energy poverty.

  5. I am not sure whether this chart measures virtue or gullibility, or perhaps just chance.

  6. The decline in South Africa’s emissions is due largely to the downturn in the economy and the collapse of a number of important industries. This country continues down the disastrous slope of introducing more and more renewable energy, all of which has to be bought by the state utility, Eskom, whenever it is available and whether or not Eskom requires it. In fact Eskom does not need this renewable electricity at all, as it has a generating surplus. Eskom’s coal-fired power stations have to reduce output when the sun is shining or the wind is blowing, but keep the boilers stoked up and ready to generate electricity when the sun goes down and the wind disappears. We don’t have the gas supplies that have made such a dramatic difference to emissions reductions in the USA.

    In 2016 Eskom spent 18% of its primary energy costs to buy 4% of its production from Independent Power Producers. In 2017 the figures were 24% and 5% respectively. Eskom is in deep financial trouble, yet it is forced to spend a quarter of its energy costs to buy very expensive electricity it does not even need. It’s all quite insane, and why the political mandarins in South Africa cannot see what is happening in South Australia is beyond belief. But perhaps they do know this, and are pursuing other devious agendas, one of which is to destroy Eskom? Our Minister of Energy proudly talks about the massive investment into the renewable energy programme, conveniently omitting to tell the citizens that 60% of the costs of a wind ‘farm’ go straight out of the country to Germany, Denmark and elsewhere to pay for the turbines and other hardware.

    Of course the BP Review does not account for biomass burning as a source of Carbon Dioxide. In a very insightful post by Willis at WUWT a couple of years ago, he pointed out that the Ibuku satellite reveals several African countries to be major world emitters of the naughty mighty molecule from massive deforestation and biomass burning.

    • Who owns the land on which the proposed “massive” extension of wind and solar farms are to be located , or are already located?

    • Of course the likes of the BBC usually explain this away with a phrase like ‘investments in wind/solar made during the Obama era’, barely mentions the role of gas.

        • So what?
          You seem to think that when the current nat gas plants are retired, that the only thing they can be replaced with is another nat gas plant.
          As the usage of nat gas goes up, so does it’s price. As the usage of coal goes down, so does it’s price. Basic econ 101, something you should try studying.

          Like all trolls, you are absolutely convinced that any trend that you like will inevitably continue.

          • Hahaha – MarkW says that in XX years – 50? 100? natural gas will run out so that the price will come up and coal will come back. Interesting, anytime someone says we should move to renewable as fossil fuels will run out, folks like MarkW say “we were supposed to run out of oil decades ago, we always find more and we always will.” Now Mark is changing his tune. Hypocrite.

    • The Venezuelan economy is dropping like a flushing toilet. Kind of like Zimbabwe.

      That is the socialist system the left wants for America and the world.

      About 200 countries around the world are on this disastrous path. BTW, Socialists killed about 200 million people in the 20th Century.

      Hmm! 20th Century, 200 failing countries , 200 million killed – is there a pattern here? Numerologists take note! Is this merely a coincidence? I think NOT!!!!!!

      Cue “Twilight Zone “music… 🙂

      Seriously, the Socialists, Hitler, Stalin and Mao et al pretty much ruined the 20th Century – they have had their day, their “moment in the darkness”. Let’s not do all this again.

        • Even if it was a movie reference, everything Allan wrote is completely accurate, so lighten up yourself.

          • Both Allan and MarkW don’t know the difference between democratic social programs and socialism as a way of government. It’s so sad that our educational system has failed our citizens that they don’t even know the definitions of basic words.

            And I’m sure Allan is leading the way in practicing what he preaches by renouncing the free health care he receives in Canada and paying for it out of his own pocket instead.

    • Excerpt from my post below:

      3. More atmospheric CO2 is highly beneficial to all carbon-based life on Earth. Therefore, CO2 abatement and sequestration schemes are nonsense.

    • That’s a fair assessment. Changes follow the pattern of diminishing returns, and we should be looking at per-capita emissions, not total. This isn’t a really indicative except in comparisons with, say, Canada.

  7. Yea!!! Look at Canada – our country has a small population, but we are doing our bit to increase vital CO2 concentration in the atmosphere! We are beating Russia, a country with almost four times our population! Kinda like hockey! Da! Da! Ca-na-da!!! 🙂

    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2018/05/15/globalization-could-undermine-efforts-to-reduce-co2-emissions/#comment-2355921

    [excerpts]

    The global cooling period from ~1940 to 1975 (during a time of increasing atmospheric CO2) demonstrates that climate sensitivity to increased atmospheric CO2 is near-zero – so close to zero as to be insignificant.

    This and other evidence strongly supports the conclusion that there is NO global warming crisis, except in the fevered minds of warmist propagandists.

    There is overwhelming evidence that the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere and the oceans is not dangerously high – it is dangerously low, too low for the continued survival of life on Earth.

    ON CO2 STARVATION

    I have written about the vital issue of “CO2 starvation” since 2009 or earlier, and others including Dr. Patrick Moore, a co-founder of Greenpeace, have also written on this subject:
    https://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2016/06/moore-positive-impact-of-human-co2-emissions.pdf

    Summary

    1. Atmospheric CO2 is not alarmingly high; in fact, it is dangerously low for the survival of terrestrial carbon-based life on Earth. Most plants evolved with up to 4000 ppm CO2 in the atmosphere, or about 10 times current CO2 concentrations.

    2. In one of the next global Ice Ages, atmospheric CO2 will approach about 150ppm, a concentration at which terrestrial photosynthesis will slow and cease – and that will be the extinction event for much or all of the terrestrial carbon-based life on this planet.

    3. More atmospheric CO2 is highly beneficial to all carbon-based life on Earth. Therefore, CO2 abatement and sequestration schemes are nonsense.

    4. As a devoted fan of carbon-based life on this planet, I feel the duty to advocate on our behalf. I should point out that I am not prejudiced against non-carbon-based life forms. They might be very nice, but I do not know any of them well enough to form an opinion. 🙂
    _________________________________________________________________________

    • Again, Allan, we don’t know where your excerpt ends, and where your commentary beings.

      • And again Jeff, everything below the word [excerpt] is the excerpt.

        The url also works – you can look up the full post.
        __________________________

        “Oh! You’ve got to be pulling on my leg!”

    • I’m not convinced our 2% contribution makes a difference either way. The error margins on natural sinks/sources are far larger than that. It’s all hubris. One day we’ll be extinct from some natural event that nobody predicted but the planet will still be here.

    • “Look at Canada – … We are beating Russia, a country with almost four times our population!”

      I googled for “population of Canada and Russia” and got this:

      “the population of Russia is ~142 million people (107 million fewer people live in Canada).”

      • Yes. 142/35 = ~4.

        Note that the perfidious French are not keeping up – their CO2 emissions are alarmingly low – so Canada and our Allies have to carry them, just like we did in WW1 and WW2.

        Kudos to India and China! Keep it up! Burn that coal! Attaboys all around! 🙂

  8. Per capita doesn’t mean much when considering we have the most lax immigration laws. People don’t want to become citizens of say..Venezuela.

      • Per Capita is a scam comparing the West to third world countries due to the extreme poverty of it’s populace and no to little electricity for most of their populace. Toss in China and India with their billion + population and it can really throw off the per capita calculations.

  9. That’s terrible news!

    Because more CO2 in the air
    is usually wonderful news !

    The US was leading the greening of our planet,
    from more CO2 in the air, done mainly with
    fossil fuels burned with little pollution
    … while China also adds CO2 to the air,
    but with a lot of real pollution —
    — so much real air pollution there
    that some of it drifts all the way
    to our Left Coast,
    and does strange things
    to the people living there.

    More CO2 in the air improves our planet,
    when real pollution from burning fossil fuels
    is kept to a minimum.

    China and India are not doing that!

    They are the problem.

    The US has not been a problem since
    we cleaned up our own pollution
    after the 1970s.

  10. This is an interesting article and discussion, but it doesn’t seem to matter much that we are reducing CO2 emissions. In fact, since the increase in plant life means there is more food for mankind and animals, why would we want to reduce it. Not to mention there will be more oxygen produced.

  11. I am constantly amazed at how much is now outsourced to China. Does not surprise me at all that our CO2 is declining. Our manufacturing has generally declined too, moved out of the US.

    Shopping recently for a Graduation card I turned one over to check the price. Made in China… a Hallmark graduation card, made in China. I’m not sure the CO2 numbers mean anything.

  12. “The next largest decline was in Ukraine (-10.1% and 28.1 tons).”

    Ukraine since more than 10 years doesn’t pay its gas bills.

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