Coal / Energy

Emissions and economic growth don’t have to be in lockstep, report shows

The economy can grow while emissions from fossil fuels fall, but policy matters, said experts at an international science conference this month.

A chart from the Second State of the Carbon Cycle Report shows U.S. energy carbon dioxide emissions and gross domestic product.

FALMOUTH, MA — “‘Decreasing use of fossil fuels has the largest implications for reducing greenhouse gases,’ said Richard Birdsey, senior scientist at the Woods Hole Research Center in Massachusetts. He provided an overview of data from the government’s November 2018 report.

Total U.S. carbon dioxide emissions fell even as the United States saw significant economic growth after the 2008 recession, Birdsey noted. Ohio’s energy sector had a similar trend. Statewide emissions from all energy sectors in 2016 were about 21 percent lower than 2008 levels.

In contrast, the country’s economic growth and emissions grew or fell pretty much in tandem for most of the preceding century.

…Two big reasons U.S. emissions fell over the last 11 years was a shift from coal to natural gas and more fuel efficiency standards for motor vehicles, Birdsey noted.

Now, however, the Trump administration has proposed weakening the CAFE standards that would have nearly doubled average fuel efficiency by 2025, thus saving drivers huge amounts in fuel costs. The rollback rule could be finalized this year, and would lead to more fuel consumption and higher greenhouse gas emissions.”

— Kathiann M. Kowalski, Midwest Energy News

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