US carbon emissions down 10% since 2005, says EPA

Data submitted to UN reveals US is over halfway to meeting its 2020 climate change target

US and Japanese investments in solar saw a 10% rise in clean energy investments in Q1 of 2014 (Pic: Gemasolar)

US and Japanese investments in solar saw a 10% rise in clean energy investments in Q1 of 2014 (Pic: Gemasolar)

By Ed King

US greenhouse gas emissions dropped 10% from 2005 – 2012, new data presented to the UN by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reveals.

The results, which show emissions fell 3.3% from 2011-2012, mean the US is just over halfway to meeting a pledge made at UN talks in 2009 to cut GHG releases 17% on 2005 levels by 2020.

The EPA says the reductions are due to new clean energy generation sources, investments in efficiency measures and a drop in transportation sector emissions.

But while carbon dioxide emissions have fallen around 5.4% since 1990, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), refrigerant gases with a warming potential far more potent than CO2, soared from 36.9 million metric tons CO2 equivalent (CO2e) to 151.2 CO2e from 1990 to 2012.

The US is currently working with China and India – two of the world’s other large HFC emitters – to develop new technologies to replace these gases.

(Pic: EPA)

(Pic: EPA)

According to a report released in February by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) for the Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE), US energy use fell 5% from 2007 to 2013.

It says natural gas and renewable energy provided over 40% of US electricity generation in 2013, down slightly from 2012, but up 10% since 2007.

The US has rolled out a series of carbon cutting initiatives since the launch of President Obama’s ‘Climate Action Plan’ in 2013, aimed at cutting methane emissions, boosting fuel efficiency standards and closing coal power plants.

The administration is expected to release its ‘pledge’ for a proposed UN climate deal at the start of 2015, but has not given any indication what it might be.

US proposals submitted to the UN in 2010 outlined a trajectory where emissions would fall 30% in 2025 and 42% in 2030, in line with an overall reduction of 83% by 2050, but these were dependent on approval from lawmakers in Congress, which now seems unlikely.

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