Quantcast

U.S. Carbon Emissions Spiked 3.4% in 2018, Second-Largest Increase Since 1996

Climate
Direct emissions from residential and commercial buildings increased by an estimated 10 percent in 2018 to their highest level since 2004. Jeffery Neckel / EyeEm / Getty Images

Carbon emissions in the U.S. experienced a sharp upswing in 2018, despite a record number of coal-fired power plant closings, according to new data. An analysis released by the research firm Rhodium Group Tuesday shows that emissions rose by 3.4 percent last year—the second-largest gain in more than twenty years.


The analysis also found that emissions from industrial manufacturing rose 5.7 percent, while transportation emissions rose 1 percent. The analysis describes these as industries "most often ignored in clean energy and climate policymaking" and significant drivers in the increase. "The big takeaway for me is that we haven't yet successfully decoupled U.S. emissions growth from economic growth," Rhodium analyst Trevor Houser told The New York Times.

As reported by The Washington Post:

"The latest growth makes it increasingly unlikely that the United States will achieve a pledge made by the Obama administration in the run-up to the Paris climate agreement, that the country would reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by the year 2025.
A large part of President Barack Obama's plan for meeting that goal turned on key climate policies, including new regulations for vehicle fuel efficiency and power plants. These policies alone were not enough—the United States has never been on target to fulfill its Paris promises. But the Trump administration has moved to reverse or weaken them."

"The U.S. has led the world in emissions reductions in the last decade thanks in large part to cheap gas displacing coal," Jason Bordoff, director of the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University, who was not involved in the analysis, told The New York Times. "But that has its limits, and markets alone will not deliver anywhere close to the pace of decarbonization needed without much stronger climate policy efforts that are unfortunately stalled if not reversed under the Trump administration."

For a deeper dive:

The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, CNN, The Atlantic, CNBC, Bloomberg, Greentech Media, Mashable

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, and sign up for daily Hot News.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A Starbucks barista prepares a drink at a Starbucks Coffee Shop location in New York. Ramin Talaie / Corbis via Getty Images

By Cathy Cassata

Are you getting your fill of Starbucks' new Almondmilk Honey Flat White, Oatmilk Honey Latte, and Coconutmilk Latte, but wondering just how healthy they are?

Read More
Radiation warning sign at the Union Carbide uranium mill in Rifle, Colorado, in 1972. Credit: National Archives / Environmental Protection Agency, public domain

By Sharon Kelly

Back in April last year, the Trump administration's Environmental Protection Agency decided it was "not necessary" to update the rules for toxic waste from oil and gas wells. Torrents of wastewater flow daily from the nation's 1.5 million active oil and gas wells and the agency's own research has warned it may pose risks to the country's drinking water supplies.

Read More
Sponsored
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg takes part in a "Friday for Future" youth demonstration in a street of Davos on Jan. 24, 2020 on the sideline of the World Economic Forum annual meeting. FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP via Getty Images

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin pretended not to know who Greta Thunberg is, and then he told her to get a degree in economics before giving world leaders advice, as The Guardian reported.

Read More
The Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite on the Suomi NPP satellite acquired this image of forest fire smoke hovering over North America on Aug. 15, 2018. NASA Earth Observatory

New York City isn't known for having the cleanest air, but researchers traced recent air pollution spikes there to two surprising sources — fires hundreds of miles away in Canada and the southeastern U.S.

Read More
If temperatures continue to rise, the world is at risk from global sea-level rise, which will flood many coastal cities as seen above in Bangladesh. NurPhoto / Contributor / Getty Images

The mounting climate emergency may spur the next global financial crisis and the world's central banks are woefully ill equipped to handle the consequences, according to a new book-length report by the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), as S&P Global reported. Located in Basel, Switzerland, the BIS is an umbrella organization for the world's central banks.

Read More