Americas CO2 Emissions Fall to Lowest Level in Generation As Global Emissions Rise 50 Since 1990

Since 2005 natural gas has been responsible for more CO2 reductions than renewables

By Jessica Lutz

WASHINGTON D.C. (Texas Insider Report) Believe it or not the United States leads the world in reducing CO2 emissions largely because of its increased use of natural gas. And according to the International Energy Agency (EIA) U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions are projected to stay near their current level through 2050 which is especially significant considering how much the economy is projected to grow over the next three decades.

As IEA put it:

Energy-related emissions in the United States remain around their 1990 levels 14 and 800 Mt of CO2 below their peak in 2000.

This is the largest absolute decline among all countries since 2000.

Without the coal-to-gas switch the increase in emissions would have been more than 15 greater." "

In fact the EIA estimates that since 2005 natural gas has been responsible for more CO2 emissions reductions in electricity generation than renewables

Yes the growing use of natural gas has been the chief factor in decoupling economic growth and rising emissions.

Weve known for a while that the increased use of natural gas in U.S. power generation is the main reason CO2 emissions have fallen to their lowest level in a generation even as global emissions have risen 50 since 1990.

natgas_vs_renewables/

Natural gas is playing a lead role in meeting rapidly increasing global energy demand and its growing use in electricity generation has resulted in significant savings in carbon dioxide emissions worldwide. These points were echoed by the International Energy Agency (IEA) in its Global Energy and CO2 Status Report released last week.

The IEA estimates that world energy demand increased 2.3 year over year in 2018 nearly twice the average rate since 2010 driven by a strong global economy and increased heating and cooling needs.

Natural gas the report noted emerged as the fuel of choice" as it met almost half of the total increase in energy demand. 

IEA

Domestically the U.S. International Energy Agency estimates that U.S. natural gas consumption increased by 10 in 2018 reaching a record high of 83.4 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) the largest increase coming from demand for natural gas in electricity generation. 

EIA

This is really good news and not just for our industry. Clean natural gas is integral to reaching domestic and global emissions-reduction and climate goals a point that was made clear in the IEA report:

Driven by economics and policies coal-to-gas switching avoided almost 60 Mt of coal demand with the transition to less carbon-intensive natural gas helping avert 95 Mt of CO2 emissions.

Now that the global numbers are in natural gas has proven its not going anywhere anytime soon.

Globally U.S. natural gas can play an important role in reducing emissions. Increased U.S. exports of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) can allow other nations to replicate what has been achieved here.

These exports have skyrocketed thanks to increased domestic production reaching nearly 1.1 trillion cubic feet last year.

The benefits of natural gas expanded role in the global energy mix continue to become clear. As the U.S. and our allies abroad work toward emissions-reduction and climate goals while providing the affordable and reliable energy our modern societies depend on natural gas will remain the fuel of choice. 

Weve seen how natural gas has helped drive down U.S. CO2 emissions now imagine the emissions reduction benefits as more and more U.S. natural gas companies supply other economies around the world.

Jessica Lutz is a writer for the American Petroleum Institute.

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