CO2 emissions are trending … down?

The first in a series of posts about some of the good things coming from our industry, which benefit society and our world.

A funny thing happened to energy related United States CO2 emissions during the past few years – they’ve shown a significant and unanticipated reduction. This is due in large part to the boom in Natural Gas production brought on by new technologies like hydraulic fracturing.

According to a study by the United States Energy Information Administration (USEIA) – as reported by USA Today, total United States energy-related CO2 emissions have declined about 15% since 2008. Recent levels were the lowest since 1992. The article details how this reduction has largely been the result of market forces – vs. specific public policy. (Adam Smith’s “Invisible Hand” of market forces strikes again!)

This dramatic decline came as a surprise to most public policy experts, because environmental forecasts failed to anticipate the impact that plentiful, low-cost, and (of course) CLEAN Natural Gas would have on the U.S. electricity generation industry. Power generating plants across the country have been converting from coal to natural gas at a rapid rate for the past few years. “The speed of the electric-power industry’s switch from coal to gas surprised just about everyone,” noted the article.

The impact of this has been a substantial reduction in CO2 emissions generated by coal, which is a major contributor of CO2 emissions. For more detailed information about this surprising and positive trend, check out this study from USEIA.