Here’s something you won’t often here from the environmental movement: Under President Donald Trump, per-capita carbon dioxide emissions are the lowest they’ve been in nearly seven decades.
The Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) latest energy report shows U.S. carbon dioxide emissions are the lowest they’ve been since 1992, and that per-capita emissions are the lowest since 1950.
The U.S. emitted 15.6 metric tons of CO2 per person in 1950. After rising for decades, it’s declined in recent years to 15.8 metric tons per person in 2017, the lowest measured levels in 67 years.
In the last year, U.S. emissions fell more than 0.5 percent while European emissions rose 1.5 percent, according to BP world energy data — an ironic turn of events given Europe’s shaming of Trump for leaving the Paris climate accord.
Globally, carbon dioxide emissions rose in the last year as well, despite the Paris agreement going into effect in 2016. (RELATED: A Torrent Of Negative Press Ended Scott Pruitt’s Career At EPA)
So what’s driving this trend?
One long-term trend is the natural decline in emissions per unit of economic output, or GDP. EIA data shows the ratio has declined from 1,091 metric tons of CO2 emissions per unit of GDP in 1950 to 301 metric tons in 2017.
As the economy becomes more efficient overtime, energy use, therefore emissions, decline per unit of GDP. The Great Recession that hit in 2008 also caused emissions to plummet.
Also, U.S. energy demand has flatlined since the early 2000s, and as that happened, coal lost sizeable market shares to natural gas and green energy sources. Coal is much more emissions-intensive than natural gas.
Coal’s decline largely began under the Obama administration when stricter environmental regulations aimed at closing older coal plants were issued. Coupled with lower-priced natural gas, utilities began retiring coal plants earlier than expected.
So, will the U.S. continue to cut emissions? EIA projects emissions to increase slightly in 2018 before flatlining after that. Global emissions are expected to increase to as India, China and other countries electrify and grow their economies.
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