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EIA reports a 3.9% increase in US energy-related carbon dioxide emissions in 2010

Factors contributing to the growth in energy-related CO2 emissions in 2010. Click to enlarge.

US carbon dioxide emissions from the consumption of fossil fuels were 5,638 million metric tons carbon dioxide (MMTCO2) in 2010, an increase of 3.9% from the 2009 level, according to Energy-Related Carbon Dioxide Emissions, 2010, an online analysis released by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). This is the largest percentage increase in US energy-related carbon dioxide emissions since 1988. However, emissions are still 6% below the 2005 level. Since 1990, US carbon dioxide emissions have grown at an average annual rate of 0.6%.

Among the factors that influenced the rise in emissions was an increase in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 3.0%. In addition, the energy intensity of the US economy, measured as energy consumed per dollar of GDP (Energy/GDP), increased by 0.7% in 2010. There was also a slight increase in the carbon dioxide intensity of US energy supply (CO2 per unit of energy) in 2010, which is in contrast to a drop of 2.4% in 2009. Consumption of coal, the most carbon-intensive fossil fuel, rose by 6% in 2010 after falling by 12% in 2009.

The four factors: population growth (0.9%), growth in output per capita (2.1%), energy intensity (0.7%), and carbon intensity (0.1%) combined to yield the emissions increase of 3.9%.

The 3.9 percent increase in emissions in 2010 was primarily driven by the rebound from the economic downturn experienced in 2008 and 2009. The Reference case in our latest energy outlook projects significantly slower emissions growth over the next decade, averaging 0.2 percent per year.

—Acting EIA Administrator Howard Gruenspecht

Total energy consumption rose by 3.8% in 2010 across all end-use sectors. Because GDP increased by 3.0%, it meant that the energy intensity of the economy increased by 0.7%.

The industrial sector experienced an increase in total energy consumption of 5.7 percent in 2010—about two percentage points greater than overall energy demand. The residential sector total energy demand grew by 5.2%. Other sectors saw smaller increases; energy use in the transportation and commercial sectors grew by 1.9% and by 1.7% respectively.

The total category of non-carbon electricity generation saw an increase of 1.2%. However, because total generation increased by 4.2%, it meant that the share of non-carbon generation fell from 30% to 29%. A large drop in hydropower generation offset much of the increase in nuclear and wind and solar. Wood generation saw only small increases. The result was that non-carbon generation sources increased less than 14 billion kWh.

Changes in non-carbon electricity generation. Click to enlarge.



Most of the progress has been negative. Meanwhile, many of us will continue to blame China (the world's manufacturing country) for their justified increase.


Of course. China's emissions would have increased much less had China used the best-available technology instead of trying to do things on the cheap.

China now has a lot of dirty, inefficient, cheaply-built "assets" which are sunk costs and will probably be around for 50 years or until China runs out of coal, whichever comes first (probably the latter).


China's primary goal is to become and stay competitive as the world's factory. Right now USA and China depend heavily on coal fired power plants. USA's per capita GHG is almost 5 times higher than China's.

As China succeeds, it will modernize and upgrade its power plants with 100+ nuclear based plants, many thousands wind turbines and even more solar power plants. Two or three decades down the road, both countries may have almost the same power mix and probably similar per capita GHG but China's manufacturing facilities may be much larger.


China's increase in CO2 is not only justified - it should have been done 10 years ago; right?


TT...when you become the World's factory, you will emit much more CO2. That's how USA got to be in the first CO2 emission place many years ago. Now that production facilities are moving from USA to China, so will CO2 emissions. There is a direct relationship unless ways are found to produce and transport goods without CO2 emissions.


Truly skilled sarcasm is a delight to behold.
By staying always in character your subtle gems and even the heavy handed quips fit somehow smoothly in.

Well done H.


TT...sorry if I had to pull out this forgotten truth that we do not like to hear. We are not always proud of where we come from but more of what we have become, with the exception of the last 10+ years? Will the next 10+ years be more reflective of what we would like to be? May be and may be not. It may be rather grim if we don't fix the ongoing mess we created soon. A non-politician savior may be needed. Another 10+ years of the current political haggling could push the economy backward by half a century.


But our justified profligate emissions of CO2 are fading.

Now that production facilities are moving from USA to China, so will CO2 emissions.

China is the savior.


In a certain way TT. At first sight, it sounds unbelievingly good to have somebody else do the dirty work while we live it up with borrowed $$$$B. Too bad that it cannot last forever. Sooner or latter, we may run out of borrowed funds and have to relearn how to compete and live within our means.

Would Warren Buffet accept to lead the Nation for 24 months to fix it up?


And send the professional politicians on a two-year holiday.


Does he have a rational plan?

Not like we need one - didn't in 2008.


I think he would do great.

Lower or eliminate income taxes for all low wage/revenue people (below $20K or $25k). Eliminate all other income tax loop holes. People would start buying again and USA would become more competitive.

Increase income tax rates for people with high revenues to partially compensate for lost revenues.

Introduce a Fed sale tax (5%) + higher fuel taxes (progressive $0.02/gal/month) to get rid of the current deficit and start repaying the national debt.


China says that their new solar power plants will be competitive with coal fired plants by 2015 and even cheap thereafter. We may have to look East for the clean sustainable energy solution.


Researchers at MIT have developed a transformer with no moving parts to convert heat directly into electricity. They claim that it would be at least 3 times smaller than an equivalent power lithium battery. It could become a cleaner quieter genset for PHEVs, using CNG as a heat source or produce electricity on demand.

This type of converter could also recover the energy lost as heat in most ICE and current coal fired, NG and nuclear power plants.

It could also transform the heat for nuclear radiation directly into electricity without going through the steam turbine generator phase.

Interesting if it can be develop on a large scale.


If we "Lower or eliminate income taxes for all low wage/revenue people (below $20K or $25k)."

Do they still get to vote?

What will you vote for?

More taxes on the achievers?

More Gov spending?

Simple insanity.

"Eliminate all other income tax loop holes."
The elimination of tax loopholes and earmarks is essential to our cultural self respect.
Poiticians that do NOT make this happen immediately should be voted out - immediately.

"People would start buying again and USA would become more competitive." Sure, like magic, right?

"China says . . ." Why would what China says have ANY link to reality for you?

"Researchers at MIT have developed a transformer with no moving parts to convert heat directly into electricity" . . as featured on Warehouse 13.

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