Sunday, January 23, 2022

Greenhouse gas emissions jumped in 2021, despite Biden’s climate pledges

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After falling extra sharply than at any level since World War II in 2020, US greenhouse gas emissions rebounded from the pandemic in 2021 — possible rising sooner than the nation’s economic system did final yr, in line with a preliminary evaluation by analysis agency Rhodium Group. The rise in planet-heating air pollution dangers placing the US’s climate targets additional out of attain, Rhodium warns.

Greenhouse gas emissions rose 6.2 % final yr in comparison with 2020, Rhodium discovered. That’s barely greater than preliminary estimates for financial progress in 2021: a 5.7 % rise in GDP, in line with Goldman Sachs. It’s the most recent proof that as countries return to their outdated, polluting habits, the pandemic will do little to decelerate climate change in the absence of extra intentional air pollution cuts.

The greatest culprits behind the US’s soar in air pollution final yr are diesel vehicles and coal vegetation, Rhodium’s evaluation discovered. Transportation was already the US’s greatest supply of emissions earlier than COVID-19 stalled financial exercise in 2020. But a brand new development emerged in the course of the pandemic: demand for diesel outpaced gasoline. As folks stayed at dwelling to curb the unfold of COVID-19, many picked up new hobbies, mounted up their houses, and shopped on-line extra — maintaining vehicles busy with deliveries. Road freight was the one class of transportation that noticed gas demand surpass pre-pandemic ranges in 2021.

Coal made a notable “comeback” final yr, Rhodium says, after falling steadily for greater than half a decade. Coal-fired energy era grew for the primary time since 2014. Low pure gas costs have largely contributed to coal’s demise through the years, however final yr, pure gas costs soared after an uncommon chilly snap dealt a double whammy to the US — it froze manufacturing and drove demand up for heating. Low shares of pure gas in the US and overseas continued to maintain costs excessive for a lot of the yr. At the identical time, financial restoration from the pandemic upped demand for electrical energy. Altogether, it was a boon to coal.

There was some excellent news in the Rhodium evaluation: renewable power grew in 2021, reaching 20 % of US electrical energy era for the primary time. Solar energy is poised to have a fairly good yr in 2022 — it’ll make up nearly half of all newly put in capability to the facility grid, in line with the US Energy Information Administration.

After Joe Biden stepped into workplace final yr, he re-committed the US to the Paris climate settlement and pledged to slash the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions in half from peak ranges in 2005 by the top of the last decade. That would require a gentle, year-on-year drop in greenhouse gas emissions. Rhodium’s newest tally, nonetheless, exhibits that the US was headed in the other way final yr. While the pandemic-related shutdowns dropped US greenhouse gas air pollution by greater than 22 % from 2005 ranges in 2020, emissions solely fell by about 17 % in 2021.

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