CO2 Emissions Expected to Decline Yet Again. Thank Natural Gas.

Tom Shepstone
Shepstone Management Company, Inc.


CO2 emissions are expected by the Energy Information Administration to decline again for the next two years as a result of shifts to natural gas use.

The EIA is out with new projections on CO2 emissions and, once again, they show a drop in CO2 emissions, not to mention other far more important emissions, from a switch to natural gas in electricity generation and heating. This marks the continuation of the shale environmental revolution, as natural gas supplanted other fuel sources and cleaned the air.

co2 emissions

Here’s the short but beautiful story from EIA:

In its latest Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO), released on January 14, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) forecasts year-over-year decreases in energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions through 2021. After decreasing by 2.1% in 2019, energy-related CO2 emissions will decrease by 2.0% in 2020 and again by 1.5% in 2021 for a third consecutive year of declines

If this forecast holds, energy-related CO2 emissions will have declined in 7 of the 10 years from 2012 to 2021. With the forecast declines, the 2021 level of fewer than 5 billion metric tons would be the first time emissions have been at that level since 1991.

After a slight decline in 2019, EIA expects petroleum-related CO2 emissions to be flat in 2020 and decline slightly in 2021. The transportation sector uses more than two-thirds of total U.S. petroleum consumption. Vehicle miles traveled (VMT) grows nearly 1% annually during the forecast period. In the short term, increases in VMT are largely offset by increases in vehicle efficiency.

Winter temperatures in New England, which were colder than normal in 2019, led to increased petroleum consumption for heating. New England uses more petroleum as a heating fuel than other parts of the United States. EIA expects winter temperatures will revert to normal, contributing to a flattening in overall petroleum demand…

Changes in the relative prices of coal and natural gas can cause fuel switching in the electric power sector. Small price changes can yield relatively large shifts in generation shares between coal and natural gas. EIA expects coal-related CO2 will decline by 10.8% in 2020 after declining by 12.7% in 2019 because of low natural gas prices. EIA expects the rate of the coal-related CO2 decline to be less in 2021 at 2.7%.

The declines in CO2 emissions are driven by two factors that continue from recent historical trends. EIA expects that less carbon intensive and more efficient natural gas-fired generation will replace coal-fired generation and that generation from renewable energy—especially wind and solar—will increase…

Coal-fired generation alone has fallen from 28% in 2018 to 24% in 2019 and will fall further to 21% in 2020 and 2021. The natural gas-fired generation share rises from 37% in 2019 to 38% in 2020, but it declines to 37% in 2021. In general, when the share of natural gas increases relative to coal, the carbon intensity of electricity supply decreases. Increasing the share of renewable generation further decreases the carbon intensity.

Well, there you go. Notice, though, New England, which is resistant to natural gas, a terrible place for solar and home to so many of the elite snobs who would never accept an industrial wind facility anywhere near their own backyard, is a big user of fuel oil. If they replaced it with natural gas, think what that would do for CO2 emissions and others. So, perhaps our effete Bostonian friends who fear for the planet, and want us to do something about it, will start by removing the beam out of their own eyes.

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9 thoughts on “CO2 Emissions Expected to Decline Yet Again. Thank Natural Gas.

    • The Patch article says nothing about fracking, natural gas or wells as the cause of poor air quality in Pittsburgh, Vera. Are you trying to make a false argument that natural gas is the worst fossil fuel for air pollution now too?

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