Environmental Protection

EIA Releases Carbon Dioxide 2012 Report

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) has released its carbon dioxide report, with information for 2012.

According to the report:

  • The 2012 downturn (3.8 percent) means that emissions are at their lowest level since 1994 and over 12 percent below the recent 2007 peak.
  • Although GDP increased by 2.8 percent in 2012, energy consumption fell by 2.4 percent (2.4 quadrillion Btu) in that same year—the result was a 5.1 percent decline in energy use per dollar of GDP.
  • The emissions decline was the largest in a year with positive growth in per capita output and the only year to show a decline where per capita output increased 2 percent or more.
  • Half of the overall energy decline was from the residential sector (1,213 trillion Btu or 5.7 percent), where a very warm first quarter of the year lowered energy demand and emissions.
  • Residential sector electricity consumption was lower in 2012 as compared to 2011 and this also helped to lower emissions as electricity-related emissions have been the principle source of residential sector emissions since 1965.
  • U.S. energy-related carbon dioxide emissions have declined in all but one year since 2007.  However, if the trends in drivers from the previous decade remained the same, emissions would have been over 900 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (MMTCO2) higher.
  • From 1997 to 2007 per capita output grew at an average rate of 2.0 percent but from 2007 to 2012 per capita output was flat and as a result emissions were about 563 MMTCO2 lower.
  • The next largest contributor to the decline was total carbon intensity that declined only 0.1 percent from 1997 to 2007, but declined 1.3 percent annually from 2007 to 2012 and reduced emissions by about 384 MMTCO2.
  • The carbon intensity of the electricity produced fell by 13 percent from 2007 to 2012.  Emissions would have been about 314 MMTCO2 higher if the carbon intensity of the electricity supply had not declined and this accounts for most of the 384 MMTCO2 reduction accounted for by carbon intensity mentioned above.
    • Of this reduction about 198 MMTCO2 is due mainly to the shift from coal to natural gas.
    • The remainder (116 MMTCO2) is largely the result of a 9-percent increase in non-carbon generation (renewable and nuclear).

For more information or to see the full report, please click here.

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