U.S. Carbon Emissions Skyrocketed in 2018!

Guest “EXCELLENT!” by David Middleton

U.S. Carbon Emissions Surged in 2018 Even as Coal Plants Closed

By Brad Plumer

Jan. 8, 2019

WASHINGTON — America’s carbon dioxide emissions rose by 3.4 percent in 2018, the biggest increase in eight years, according to a preliminary estimate published Tuesday.


Under the Paris climate agreement, the United States vowed to cut emissions 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. The Rhodium Group report warns that this target now looks nearly unattainable…


New York Times

No schist Sherlock.  The United States didn’t vow to cut anything.  Barack Hussein Obama unilaterally vowed “to cut emissions 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.”  President Trump submitted our withdrawal notice… So Obama’s vow was already unattainable before U.S. carbon emissions spiked last year.

Why did carbon emissions increase in 2018?

  • A booming economy.  GDP growth during the first 2 years of the Trump administration has been about 50% higher than that of Obama’s eight-year maladministration.
  • Our manufacturing sector is booming.
  • A cold winter.
  • A booming economy drove up trucking and air travel.
  • Electricity demand increased and most of the increasing was powered by natural gas because renewables couldn’t even keep up with no growth.



Natural Gas Kicked @$$

From the Rhodium Group:

Record Coal Closures, But Gas Picks Up the Slack

As of the end of October, 11.2 gigawatts (GW) of coal-fired power generation capacity had closed in the US (Figure 2). With another 2.5 GW of capacity scheduled for retirement by the end of December, 2018 could end up being the biggest coal plant closure year on record.

Coal-fired power generation was down sharply last year as well — more than in 2017 though not nearly as much as in 2012, 2015 and 2016. Unlike those years, where electricity demand was either flat or declining, US power consumption increased meaningfully in 2018. Natural gas not only replaced most of the lost coal generation but also fed the vast majority of the load growth last year. Between January and October, US power companies added a greater share of gas capacity than the share of retired coal capacity, and twice as much gas went online as combined wind and solar capacity additions (including distributed solar) during that period. Natural gas-fired generation increased by 166 million kWh during the first ten months of the year. That’s three times the decline in coal generation and four times the combined growth of wind and solar.


Keep on Truckin’

From the Rhodium Group:

The More Stubborn Parts of Transportation

The transportation sector retained its title as the largest source of CO2 emissions in the US for the third year running (Figure 4). During the first nine months of the year, gasoline demand declined by 0.1% as modest efficiency gains offset a minor increase in vehicle miles traveled (Figure 5). But robust growth in demand for both trucking and air travel increased demand for diesel and jet fuel by 3.1% and 3.0%, respectively. This highlights the challenges in decarbonizing the transportation sector beyond light-duty vehicles. Here we see efficiency improvements and electrification beginning to make a dent, albeit not nearly a big enough one to meet medium- and long-term US emissions targets.

Preliminary fourth quarter data suggests an accelerated decline in gasoline demand, an uptick in diesel demand and moderation in jet fuel demand relative to the first three quarters of the year. All told, we estimate that transportation emissions grew by 1% in 2018, roughly the same as the 2017 growth rate.


A Cold Winter and Hot Industrial Sector

From the Rhodium Group:

The Forgotten Sectors

The largest emissions growth in 2018 occurred in the two sectors most often ignored in clean energy and climate policymaking: buildings and industry. We estimate that direct emissions from residential and commercial buildings (from sources such as fuel oil, diesel and natural gas combusted on site for heating and cooking) increased by 10% in 2018 to their highest level since 2004. Part of this was due to a colder winter  the number of heating degree days (HDDs) across the US increased by 15% during the first quarter of 2018 relative to the same period the year prior.


While buildings have begun to attract some creative policy thinking, the industrial sector is still almost entirely ignored. At the state and federal level few good strategies have been implemented to begin decoupling production from emissions. Our preliminary estimates suggest the industrial sector posted the largest emissions gains in 2018 at 55 million metric tons. That was due mostly to growth in industrial activity. The value of shipments across all manufacturing industries rose 7.3% during the first nine months of the year, compared to 4.5% during the same period the year before. The Federal Reserve’s industrial production index for manufacturing was up 2.5% year-on-year between January and November 2018, compared with 1.4% during the same period the year before.




The fact that this report could be construed as bad news by Warmunists is proof that they have gone…

Carbon Emissions vs. Carbon Dioxide Emissions

Carbon dioxide is the dominant anthropogenic species of carbon emissions.  However, it is part of the carbon cycle.  Carbon compound emissions would probably be most accurate.  But carbon emissions requires less keystrokes, so I’m OK with it.

96 thoughts on “U.S. Carbon Emissions Skyrocketed in 2018!

  1. David Middleton

    “Whey did carbon emissions increase in 2018?”…

    “whey” is some nasty stuff.. lol

  2. Why all of the talk about Carbon targets, that’s the IPCC come Paris talk. Under Trump the USA does not have a carbon target.

    If they want any indication about what Carbon does, ask the farmers.

    Its about time that the Media told the truth, even natural gas which is preferred by the Greens as a sort of a bridge to the next step, the renewables, its still a fossell fuel, and it came from the same massive growth of vegetation and animal remains as did coal. All the result of a lot of CO2.


  3. Mr. Burns’ nuclear power plant must have had a good 2018.
    He also enjoys his petroleum distillate fueled automobile.

    He may also be commenting on the increase is “emissions” by the USA, more CO2 in the atmosphere is good for all life on Earth.

  4. Sending our manufacturing offshore also exported the associated CO2 emissions.

    Bringing manufacturing back has also brought back those CO2 emissions. The net effect is probably a decrease in emissions worldwide.

    China should be grateful that America is helping it reduce its CO2 emissions.

  5. Hmmm…India CO2 emissions is increasing, so is China’s, and Russia’s, and Germany’s…

    So if our emissions increase, they are special? They are magical emissions that increase global warming, but China’s does not?

    If you want to decrease our CO2 emissions, then build nuclear power plants…it’s really simple.

    • U.S. emissions have a 1000 year time constant. Emissions from communist countries are more easily disappeared.

      • That’s because in communist countries, carbon emissions can be sent to the gulags. But in the US and other western countries carbon emissions must be integrated into society, given public assistance and allowed to vote. Voting creates a strong positive feedback for more carbon emissions. This is why US carbon emissions cause dangerous climate change and emissions from China and India do not.

  6. Our house is hydro-power electric, 100%, so don’t blame us.
    We have to drive extra and build a bonfire now and then to contribute a small share.
    Makes us feel better.

    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    Under the Paris climate agreement, the United States vowed

    It is amazing how little the NYT and others understand of the Paris non-treaty.

    • Its not hat they don’t understand it, they don’t want their readers to understand the issues and thus critically evaluate constantly moving goalposts.
      NYT reporting on climate is nothing but a propaganda and agenda-driven narrative, even their reporting is junk not fit to print.

      • “they don’t want their readers to understand”

        Bingo. But it could also be they’re just stupid enough so that malicious motives are not necessary. You choose, both options make me shudder.

  7. Looks like the “sky is falling” hysteria is not working too well. As they say, if it won’t fit, use a bigger hammer. Time to REALLY scare the pants off everybody. If we don’t cut our emissions right now, the world will fry in ten years time.

    • We already heard this lie, it is a lie, changing how the lie is worded makes it that much more a lie. I, for one, really hope they keep telling this lie. I really, REALLY do.

  8. Last 3 years of Obama administration GDP growth was 2.3%. First 2 years of Trumps administration it was 2.7%. Feds industrial production index shows a 2.4% increase in 2018 vs 1.4% increase in 2017. From 2010-2016 annual increases of the index averaged 2% yet CO2 emissions dropped. Doesnt seem to explain going from negative or no increase in 2010-2017 to a big increase in 2018

    Bit skeptical of these emissions numbers increasing as much as they say unless its an adjustment for underreporting of emissions in the Obama years. Way too much politics in all of these numbers

    • The frakking revolution was newer during the Obama maladministration. As a result switching from coal to gas for power generation was a lot more prevalent.

    • Yes, I’d like to know just how these emissions are measured. Is there a paper on this measurement issue? I’ll be very surprised if there isn’t heaps of room for extrapolations, estimates, guesstimates, averaging, smoothing (and all those other non-empirical words I’ve forgotten). So all the measurers need to do is nudge a couple of estimates in one direction and they’ll get whatever number they want. But I don’t know, I only suspect. So educate me.

  9. With emissions climbing, and MLO CO2 recordings still clocking around 2.5 ppm/yr, demonstrates a weak linkage and robust, unsaturated sinks in play.
    Plus as the global temps continue to fall from the ElNino spike of 2016, the Climate Change bus is headed for the ditch, as the CO2 linkage becomes untenable.

  10. Meanwhile in the UK, our glorious leaders have successfully reduced our CO2 emissions (40%) by closing down our industry & offshoring our manufacturing (*so others emit our CO2 for us*) & becoming more reliant on other country’s for our energy & food… so we are winning the race to the bottom.

    I bet we can get to be a third world country quicker than anyone else & become a nation of barrow boys buying & selling any old tat that nobody else wants…by candle light in the cold & dark (how delightfully Dickensian).

  11. “These are researchers, typically working in the social sciences and environmental science, who often conduct research with the stated goal of raising awareness of left-liberal issues, or acceptance of left-liberal policy solutions.”

    Maybe Oxford is a keeper after all. I thought it belonged in the trash bin with Harvard and a thousand others that used to be institutions of higher learning. I have to say, neomarxists are nothing if not patient. The fall of the iron curtain let freedom in, but it also let out the ugly viral seeds of destruction of democracy and freedoms that gave us the greatest civilization, plentiful resources and food and a pathway for prosperity for all.

    We essentially are a few decades away from peak population ~9B, which will end the morbid fascination with Malthusian misanthropism. Ironically, our fossil fuels emissions have engendered “The Great Greening of the Planet^тм”, expanding habitat, biological diversity, conserving water and giving us bumper crops. My bet is on a “Garden of Eden Earth^тм” for all to enjoy as this exciting century unfolds. Even those fighting tooth and nail against it will be overwhelmed and mollified. Their last gasps are already growing weak and collapsing into impotent hoarse croaks.

  12. Yeah, but how much did it increase global temperatures, sea level rise, droughts, extreme weather, floods, heat waves, blah, blah, blah? Somewhere between no-one-knows and so-little-it-can’t-be-measured.

      • David,
        It boggles one’s mind that oceanographers could know so much about the oceans before computers and automated buoys! 🙂

    • Clyde, in the full “life cycle” of cement, the concrete reabsorbs the CO2 of calcination. Of course the fossil fuel heating source does add. Lime calcination similarly re-reacts to take back its evolved CO2.

      • Gary,
        I was aware that cement will eventually reabsorb CO2. However, it is a slow process with a time delay of years, if not decades. Furthermore, it is most effective with thin walls, such as tip-up wall buildings. For something like Hoover or the Aswan dam, with very thick blocks, I question whether they will ever equilibrate. I suspect that as CO2 is absorbed at the air/concrete interface, the permeability will decrease. That is, instead of proceeding at a linear rate, it probability proceeds at a logarithmic rate. So, yes, some CO2 is removed from the atmosphere, but I doubt that for very large structures all the CO2 will be recovered. Then, we have the problem that over decades, rain water with carbonic acid will release CO2 at the surface where it falls on structures. It will proceed fastest with calcite, but even the wollastonite is subject to chemical weathering.

  13. My *first* problem with this article is that it is cold-hard-bullshit.

    The methodology for detecting carbon *emissions* is to see how much CO2 wasn’t consumed by the environment.

    So the claim that they’re *emissions* is a falsifiable hypothesis from the get-go.

    • It’s actually not that difficult to estimate the anthropogenic components of the carbon cycle… On the other hand, the “natural: components are not so easy to calculate of measure.

  14. So, from the diagram humans emit 3.2% of the total but that is the only well estimated part of the total. Human emissions are the same molecule as the natural emissions and there is no mechanism for the natural sinks to choose which to absorb. The portion of any year that is human is 3.2% and that is what we can expect in the atmosphere as the process is flux into and out of the atmosphere. None of the arguments about all the increase since the industrial revolution has to be human make any sense.

    • There is an extra sink of 60 GtC (or PgC) in the Carbon budget diagram.

      The ~200 GtC annual exchange of the atmosphere with the sinks (biosphere and ocean) is superficial, about 3/4 returns the following year. A better estimate gives the decay of the C14 nuclear bomb tests spike, which gives a residence time of 14 years, from which an annual exchange of ~50 GtC follows.
      Assuming 8 GtC/a fossil fuel influx gives that in the total influx ~14% is originally from fossil fuels. This about the same fraction which is already in the atmosphere (as original CO2 molecules from fossil fuels).
      This does not mean that the rest of 40% increase of CO2 from the 280 ppm level is not from fossil fuel burning, it is exchanged with the sources. After all, ~500 GtC is added to the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels.

  15. I hope and pray these United States will, once again, become the #1 in CO2 emission. And for all of my remaining years on this bless land. If this happens, it would mean these United States would also have one red hot economy.

    I would love to see these United States wrested the reigns from China.

  16. „The transportation sector retained its title as the largest source of CO2 emissions in the US for the third year running.”

    Cars, Trucks, Airplanes…. and launched Spacerockets? lol

    • Actually, the SpaceX Falcon launch vehicle, with its LOX/RP-1 (refined kerosene) main engines, does produce CO2 during each and every launch (and return landing of its first stage). In comparison, the competing Boeing/ULA Delta IV launch vehicle, with its LOX/LH2 main engines, does not produce any CO2 during its launch.

      Why aren’t climate change alarmists demanding the end of all launches of SpaceX Falcon rockets?

  17. I am not fine with “carbon emissions.” The term is deliberately misleading. Second, carbon is an element and is only part of the molecules being emitted. In carbon dioxide, there are 2 oxygen atoms for each carbon atom. Why not call them “oxygen emissions” instead?

    • Because the 2 oxygen atoms come from the air and the 1 carbon atom comes from the fossil fuel. The oxygen was already in the air before the carbon-bearing fuel was oxidized.

      Carbon compound emissions would be more accurate because methane, chlorofluorocarbons and hHydrofluorocarbons are also greenhouse gas emissions. Of course, since ozone, nitrous oxide and water vapor are also greenhouse gases… Greenhouse gas emissions would be most accurate. However, black carbon is also a type of emission that can affect the climate, but it’s not a greenhouse gas. Then there’s the whole issue of whether or not the greenhouse effect actually works like a greenhouse.

      A lot of the terminology is misleading and/or confusing. However “carbon emissions” isn’t really misleading because the simplest, least confusing way to measure them is in tons of carbon. It’s just not the most accurate description.

      Sometimes simplification is good.

      Sometimes it’s just plain stupid. Climate change science denier got shortened to climate change denier and then climate denier. Fossil fuel-free future got shortened to fossil-free future.

  18. Ho-ray for plantfood! Carbon dioxide is necessary for all life on Earth! The idea of regulating or limiting the emissions of carbon dioxide is absolutely insane. Pump it out! Green the Earth!

    • Meanwhile, the American Psychological Association declared today that “avoiding vegetables” is among the “high-risk behaviors” considered “problematic” in traditional masculinity. Who knew?!

  19. I’ll post this over a few known leftist lairs over the Internet and watch the meltdown.

  20. DM, i figured i’d know just where to find you you. When i saw that peevish “excellent” i couldn’t help but chuckle. (Ah! There he is!) Nice to see you’re still alive and well.
    i’ve been paying so little attention to the issue as i’ve got a lot on my plate. But, i did manage to over hear my landlords t.v., always trained to fox news, saying that Trump is not a happy camper with his fed chair. The unemployment rate ticked up two percentage points in december to 3.9%. i seem to recall predicting this sort of thing a while back and you had mentioned that Trump would have the courage to yank the guy if indeed this sort of thing does happen. (do you still think so?) With Nancy Pants back as speaker, Donald should have no trouble picking whomever he wishes. The Senate might be a wild card here, but may just play along. Should be interesting to see just where things are headed. As i said, yer humble fonz has been awol on this issue for a while. My scant take on it is if things don’t change, then we may be headed for recession time. The only question being whether or not it will hit before the 2020 election. Even without a recession, it can’t look pretty with the unemployment rate stuck at 4% and dem Dems with be all over it (rightly or wrongly so). How are you seeing things? You’ve got a thorough take on the economy, you did call the participation rate deal correctly, and i’d be really interested to know. It’ll help me, too, in getting up to speed on the issue without having to delve into it too deeply myself. Thank you, David, always good to see your jocularity on display here at wuwt. Have a happy and blessed new year,

    a. h. fonzarelli (☺️)…

  21. I don’t know the definition of “transport emissions” as pertaining to trucks, but a 7% increase in tonnage with only a 3-1/2% increase in “transport emissions is either incorrect or astonishing. I could see a big drop in NOX as DEF systems came into use and maybe an industry shift toward longer trips and fuller loads on highway trucks (as LTL cargoes increasingly move to air freight and local delivery), but a 200% efficiency gain on marginal tonnage (.07/.035) is far-fetched in a one year time-frame. Either the industry has undergone a quick and radical transformation or the data analysis is wrong. And if the data and analysis is true, then the next Nobel should go to the American Trucking Industry for showing the world how to haul incrementally more tonnage at half the expected “transport emissions.”

  22. Why does CO2 content in the atmosphere increase much less than emissions? A December 6 article from the Washington Post shows estimated emissions from the 1959 through nearly 2018 have increased from about 10 to 37 billion tons of CO2, a 270% increase. However, over the same time period the actual CO2 in the atmosphere has increased from 316 ppm to 409 ppm, and increase of only 29%.

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