While the 6.1 percent fall in 2009 U.S. carbon emissions from fossil fuels gave a false sense of progress, an improved economy in 2010 is bringing industry back to reality. The Department of Energy expects CO2 emissions from fossil fuels to rise 1.5 percent in 2010, according to the most recent short-term energy outlook from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Next year, EIA predicts a 1.7 percent increase.
This year will see emissions from coal and petroleum go from a decline to an increase. For petroleum, the increase is minor, but coal use is expected to rise nearly 4 percent (see chart). Natural gas emissions are predicted to continue to decline in 2010.
By 2011, however, emissions of all three will be rising.
The new data will make it harder for the U.S. to reach any targeted emissions cuts, Kevin Book, an analyst at ClearView Energy Partners LLC in Washington, told Reuters.
Even with efficiency gains in transportation and elsewhere, electricity demand will go up, Book said.
The new trend reverses a two-year decline in emissions from fossil fuels. In addition to the 6.1 percent drop in 2009, EIA said that, at 7,053 million metric tons, U.S. greenhouse gas emissions fell 2.2 percent in 2008, when compared to 2007.
The EIA estimates that U.S. energy consumption will grow 14 percent from 2008 to 2035, while the share of energy consumed via fossil fuels will drop from 84 percent in 2008 to 78 percent in 2035.