The switch to natural gas for electricity generation prevented 95 million tons of CO2 emissions in 2018, according to a new International Energy Agency (IEA) report. The report found that global energy emissions increased 1.7 percent in 2018 – largely attributable to increased global energy demand. And as IEA explained, without the switch to natural gas, “the increase in emissions would have been more than 15 percent greater.”
A one-year U.S. emissions spike does not reverse decades of progress.
The United States also saw a 3.1 percent rise in energy-related C02 emissions. But, as the report explains, the increased use of natural gas in electricity generation averted 40 million tons of emissions. In fact, natural gas has cut 50 percent more emissions in the United States than wind or solar combined since 2005, and this increase does not diminish the progress that the United States has made. From the report:
“Despite this increase, emissions in the United States remain around their 1990 levels, 14 percent and 800 Mt of CO2 below their peak in 2000. This is the largest absolute decline among all countries since 2000.”(emphasis added)
The report echoes recent comments made by IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol:
“In the last 10 years, the emissions reductions in the United States has been the largest in the history of energy – almost 800 million tons – and this is a huge decline of emissions.” (emphasis added)
Rhodium Group released a similar analysis, estimating a slightly higher (3.4 percent) increase in U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions in January, explaining:
“We don’t expect a repeat of 2018 this coming year.”
As EID explained previously, this year-over-year increase does not reverse the decades of progress that the United States has made in reducing emissions. Since 2005, the United States has reduced its emissions 11 percent, while increasing natural gas production by 68 percent.
U.S. shale can have a global impact.
Natural gas will play an important role in the world’s ability to successfully meet climate targets, as this latest IEA report clearly demonstrates. This is even more evident as year-over-year the world’s energy demand continues to grow. In 2018, natural gas demand grew 4.6 percent – its fastest rate since 2010, according to the IEA report.
Fortunately, the United States possesses the technology and capacity to help meet that growing demand. According to Secretary Rick Perry, the United States exports LNG to 31 countries on five continents. The Energy Information Administration expects U.S. export capacity to more than double by the end of the year, helping to provide cleaner energy alternatives to countries across the globe.
As EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler explained at this year’s CERAWeek:
“When it comes to supplying affordable and reliable energy in a manner that protects human health and the environment, the U.S. is the standard bearer.”