US energy carbon dioxide emission down by 3.8%
“The 2012 downturn means that emissions are at their lowest level since 1994 and over 12 per cent below the recent increase in 2007. After 1990, only the recession year of 2009 saw a larger percentage emissions decrease than 2012,” said the statement yesterday which released the latest annual figures in carbon dioxide emission.
Energy-related carbon dioxide emissions have declined in five out of the last seven years, it said.
The Department of Energy said a large drop in energy intensity assisted the 2012 decline in energy-related carbon dioxide emissions despite economic growth.
Although GDP increased by 2.8 per cent last year, energy consumption fell by 2.4 per cent in the same year and the result was a 5.1 per cent decline in energy use per dollar of GDP and this meant emissions were about 282 million metric tons CO2 lower,” it said.
With population growth of about 0.7 per cent, the per capita output rose by about two per cent in 2012, it said.
“The decline was largest in a year with positive growth in per capita output and the only year to show a decline where per capita output increased 2 per cent or more.
However, emissions would have increased by about 143 million metric tons of carbon dioxide if the energy and carbon intensities had not decreased at the rates they did,” the energy department said.
According to the latest figures, half of the overall energy decline was from the residential sector where a very warm first quarter of the year lowered energy demand and emissions.
By the end of March, cumulative heating degree days (HDD) were about 19 percent below the 10-year normal and 22 percent below 2011, it said.
The Energy Department said the combined reduction in energy use per dollar of GDP and the carbon intensity of the energy supply meant that the overall carbon intensity of the economy (carbon dioxide per GDP) declined 6.5 per cent in 2012.
“The largest drop in the overall carbon intensity of the economy since records were kept beginning in 1949. There was decreased consumption of heating fuels because of a warm first quarter in 2012,” it said.
Only two other years, 1952 and 1981 had declines greater than 5 percent. There was decreased consumption of heating fuels because of a warm first quarter in 2012,” it said.
The natural gas competed favourably with coal, and electric power producers consumed the lower-priced natural gas in place of coal, which has higher carbon content than natural gas,” it said.