The United States’ carbon dioxide emissions fell 1.7% between 2015 and 2016, but still came in at 5,170 megatons, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration data released yesterday.
The country’s GDP grew 1.5% over the same period.
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“In 2016, the carbon intensity of U.S. energy consumption declined by 1.7%,” the EIA reports. “From 2005 to 2015, the average annual decline was 1.0%. As a result, energy-related CO2 emissions were 37 megatons lower than where they would have been had the prior trend continued.”
A slight decline in population growth compared to the previous 10-year average contributed to lower emissions, the EIA says, while higher per capita GDP growth had the opposite effect.
The agency reports that natural gas exceeded coal as a source of carbon emissions for the first time in 2016, while liquid fuels continued as by far the single biggest emitter.
“Since the late 1990s, the transportation sector has produced the most CO2 emissions. These emissions were highest in 2007, prior to the recession, and have not returned to those levels, despite increasing every year since 2012,” the EIA notes. “The industrial sector, which was the largest source of CO2 emissions throughout most of the 1990s, has experienced declining emissions, with further declines occurring in 2016.”
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