U.S. greenhouse gas emissions will grow by 1.3% in 2022, according to a report released Tuesday by Rhodium Consulting.
The increase is relatively modest compared with a 6.5% peak in emissions in 2021, but it takes the US further away from its commitments under the Paris climate agreement. U.S. emissions are now 15.5 percent below 2005 levels, reported thatputting the country on a difficult path toward meeting its pledge to cut emissions by 50% to 52% by the end of this decade.
“It’s a massive effort that needs to be put in,” said Alfredo Rivera, a senior analyst at Rhodium Consulting and lead author of the report.
Last year, the U.S. made mixed progress on climate change. For the first time in at least 60 years, renewable energy generated more electricity than coal, with wind, solar and hydro combined accounting for 22 percent of the country’s electricity supply, Rhodium Consulting said. Coal production fell to 20% of U.S. electricity generation as plant decommissioning and rail bottlenecks combined to limit output.
Greening the U.S. electricity supply means a 1% drop in emissions from power plants. It also means that US GDP growth (1.9%) outpaced emissions growth (1.3%), suggesting that the US economy is becoming less carbon intensive.
Passage of the Inflation Reduction Act last year should accelerate those trends, Rivera said, as the federal clean energy tax credit increases clean technology adoption.
But if 2022 shows that the US is making progress on climate, it also highlights the challenges ahead.
Emissions from buildings rose by 6% after a particularly cold winter. Emissions from transport and industry are both slightly above 1%. These sectors of the economy have historically proven difficult to go green, and in 2022, they drive up overall U.S. emissions.
The United States needs to reduce emissions by about 5% annually over the next decade to meet its 2030 goal of 50%. According to the EPA, emissions in the US fell by an average of 1.7% per year between 2011 and 2020. Even that figure, however, overstates past U.S. emissions progress because it includes a 10% reduction in emissions from 2020 levels due to the pandemic.
The ability of the U.S. to accelerate decarbonization efforts and meet the Paris goals depends largely on the introduction of the Reduction Inflation Act, Rivera said.
“The impact of the IRA will depend a lot on how quickly we operate the programs that receive funds and how quickly we implement them,” he said. “Even with the IRA, we still need to do more to meet our goal of reducing emissions by 50% by 2030.”
forward from Appliance News Licensed by POLITICO, LLC. Copyright 2023. E&E News provides important news for energy and environmental professionals.