“Keep It In the Ground” (KIITG) activists have made news this week for directing their considerable angst at fellow environmentalists at the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco. As former New York mayor and event co-host Michael Bloomberg noted after his speech was interrupted by protesters on Thursday:
“Only in America could you have environmentalists protesting an environmental conference.”
But even more ironic is the fact that KIITG protesters also continued to insist that progressive leaders ban the very technology most responsible for the fact that the United States is the most successful nation in the world at achieving the movement’s top objective – reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
BP’s most recent Statistical Review of World Energy shows that the United States has led the world in carbon dioxide reductions since 2005 — and it’s not even close. In fact, as the following EID chart shows, the United States’ energy-related carbon reductions over the past 12 years – 617 million metric tons – are greater than the next five leading countries’ CO2 reductions combined.
Numerous third-party experts including the International Energy Agency (IEA), U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) and United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – considered the “gold standard” of climate science by prominent environmentalists – agree that the primary reason for these declines has been increased natural gas use, made possible by fracking.
For perspective on the progress the United States has made on reducing greenhouse gas emissions since the shale revolution took hold, consider that overall global emissions have increased 2,635 million metric tons (mmt) since 2005. Emissions in China and India have increased a whopping 3,057 mmt and 877 mmt during that timespan, respectively, by far offsetting reductions by the United States and others.
BP notes that the United States led the world in carbon reductions for the third year in a row in 2017 and the ninth time this century. The EIA recently noted that energy-related U.S. CO2 emissions fell 14 percent below 2005 levels in 2017. Even more impressively, the EIA has reported that U.S. gross domestic product has increased 20 percent during that timespan, while per capita emissions have dropped to their lowest levels since 1950.
Much has been said this week at the Global Carbon Action summit about the United States’ withdrawal from the Paris climate accords, but the fact remains that – thanks to natural gas – America is more realistically positioned to meet Paris targets than virtually every nation that signed the agreement.
A February analysis by researchers from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) concluded that low natural gas prices could “put the country on the path to meeting the long-term goals” of the Paris Climate Accords. United Nations Energy Programme chief Erik Solheim also recently said,
“In all likelihood, the United States of America will live up to its Paris commitment, not because of the White House, but because of the private sector.”
Again, it can’t be emphasized enough that increased natural gas use has put the United States in this position. Natural gas consumption has increased 23 percent since 2005, as fracking has made the clean-burning fuel abundant and affordable.
A recent Bloomberg-commissioned report finds U.S. carbon emissions will be 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. Although that is short of the Paris commitments made during the Obama administration (26 to 28 percent reductions) the United States at least has a chance to meet its commitments. As Washington Times columnist Stephen Moore recently noted, not only is there not a single European Union country on pace to meet its Paris targets, most aren’t even close.
All this noted, there is good reason that a vast majority of green-minded elected officials such as California Governor Jerry Brown continue to draw the ire of the KIITG movement. Those leaders know fracking is part of the climate solution, not the problem, and have wisely resisted the demands from the KIITG movement to ban it.