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Energy-Related CO2 Emissions Increase in 2013

CO2 chartEnergy-related carbon dioxide emissions in the US increased from 5,267 million metric tons in 2012 to 5,396 million metric tons in 2013, or 2.5 percent, according to a report released yesterday by the US Energy Information Administration.

The 2013 increase was largely the result of colder weather leading to an increase in energy intensity from 2012.

Additional points from the report include the following:

  • Heating degree days were up 18.5 percent in 2013 versus 2012
  • Since 1990, emissions have only increased more in 1996, 2000 and 2010
  • The average delivered price of natural gas to electric generators rose from $3.54 per million Btu in 2012 to $4.49 per million Btu in 2013, as average delivered coal prices declined from $2.38 per million Btu in 2012 to $2.35 per million Btu in 2013; these price changes shifted some plant dispatch decisions, increasing the share of generation from coal-fired units
  • Despite the increase over 2012, emissions in 2013 were still 10 percent below their 2005 level

Other observations include the following:

  • A reversal from the mild heating season of 2012 increased residential energy demand and related emissions in 2013
  • Residential emissions increased from both direct use and electricity-related energy
  • The commercial sector saw the next largest increase in energy consumption and related CO2 emissions
  • Increased use of natural gas and the growth in renewables have contributed to the decline in power sector carbon intensity

The report notes that it is difficult to draw conclusions from one year of data, and specific circumstances affect year-to-year change. In the longer term, other factors could play a continuing role and help mitigate emissions growth.

In February, an annual draft report released by the EPA indicated greenhouse gas emissions in the US were down by 3.3 percent over the previous year.

In addition, earlier this month the EPA released a report that said CO2 emissions of new vehicles in the US was at a record low.

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