Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Why Transportation Is Now the Top Source of U.S. Pollution

Popular
Why Transportation Is Now the Top Source of U.S. Pollution
Los Angeles traffic. Luke Jones / Flickr

With the holidays coming around, it may be a good time to note that the countless miles that Americans will drive, train or fly has a big planetary impact.

In fact, the transportation sector is now the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., unseating electricity production for the first time in four decades.


According to a Bloomberg analysis, carbon dioxide emissions from transportation exceeded those from electricity production in 2016—the first time since the 1970s. The gap widened even further this year.

Check out this image from Sam Ori, the executive director of the Becker Friedman Institute for Research in Economics:

However, the reason behind the rankings flip is not because pollution from cars, planes, trains and ships is increasing. Turns out, transportation-related emissions in the U.S. haven't risen much since 2000.

Rather, the switch is due to utilities moving away from coal—the dirtiest source of power—to cheaper and cleaner natural gas. Natural gas, of course, releases greenhouse gases, but the fossil fuel emits up to 60 percent less CO2 compared to emissions from a typical new coal plant.

The boom in renewable energy, which is becoming more efficient and cheaper, is also driving down emissions.

Clean energy benefits not just the planet's health, but our health, as Bloomberg touted:

"This is good news, and not just because carbon dioxide emissions are the biggest contributor to global climate change. The shift to cleaner energy also has immediate local improvements to health by reducing the burden of asthma, cancer and heart disease."

Improved fuel economies enacted by the Obama administration and the growth of electric vehicles could spur big CO2 cuts in the U.S. transportation sector in the coming years.

However, the bad news is that the Trump administration has a pro-coal agenda and is attempting to undo President Obama's Clean Power Plan that slashes emissions from coal-fired plants. The president is also considering rolling back fuel-efficiency standards.

54% of parents with school-age children expressed concern that their children could fall behind academically, according to a poll conducted over the summer of 2020. Maria Symchych-Navrotska / Getty Images

By Pamela Davis-Kean

With in-person instruction becoming the exception rather than the norm, 54% of parents with school-age children expressed concern that their children could fall behind academically, according to a poll conducted over the summer of 2020. Initial projections from the Northwest Evaluation Association, which conducts research and creates commonly used standardized tests, suggest that these fears are well-grounded, especially for children from low-income families.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A teenager reads a school English assignment at home after her school shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic on March 22, 2020 in Brooklyn, New York. Andrew Lichtenstein / Corbis via Getty Images

The pandemic has affected everyone, but mental health experts warn that youth and teens are suffering disproportionately and that depression and suicide rates are increasing.

Read More Show Less

Trending

In an ad released by Republican Voters Against Trump, former coronavirus task force member Olivia Troye roasted the president for his response. Republican Voters Against Trump / YouTube

Yet another former Trump administration staffer has come out with an endorsement for former Vice President Joe Biden, this time in response to President Donald Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Read More Show Less
Climate Group

Every September for the past 11 years, non-profit the Climate Group has hosted Climate Week NYC, a chance for business, government, activist and community leaders to come together and discuss solutions to the climate crisis.

Read More Show Less
A field of sunflowers near the Mehrum coal-fired power station, wind turbines and high-voltage lines in the Peine district of Germany on Aug. 3, 2020. Julian Stratenschulte / picture alliance via Getty Images

By Elliot Douglas

The coronavirus pandemic has altered economic priorities for governments around the world. But as wildfires tear up the west coast of the United States and Europe reels after one of its hottest summers on record, tackling climate change remains at the forefront of economic policy.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch