Energy-related emissions in the U.S. ticked upward in 2018 after three years of continuous decline as did economywide U.S. greenhouse gas emissions with an increase of between 1.5% and 2.5% from the prior year, the Rhodium Group reported May 31.
Some of Rhodium's findings are slightly different compared to its earlier preliminary estimates. For instance, Rhodium now says fossil-fueled generation carbon dioxide emissions increased 2.7% in 2018 instead of Rhodium's prior estimate of a 3.4% uptick. Rhodium said most of the difference is due to a significant drop in coal-fired power generation in December 2018.
The implications of the findings nevertheless remain largely the same: net U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2018 were 10.7% to 11.6% under 2005 levels, still far short of the nation's pledge under the Paris Agreement on climate change to curb emissions by 26% to 28% below 2005 levels by 2025.
The pace of decarbonizing the power sector also stalled in 2018 as electricity emissions ticked up by 20 million metric tons after emissions for the sector had declined by 78 million metric tons in 2017. The report attributed some of this increase to a colder winter in 2018 than the prior winter, which meant higher electricity demand from customers, including from building-related electricity demand.
The power industry was not the only sector that had emissions increase. Methane emissions continued to grow on the back of expanded oil and gas production, and the transportation, industry, and buildings sectors also saw an uptick in emissions.
Overall, transportation in 2018 retained its position as the largest source of U.S. emissions, while the electric sector was the second-biggest source of emissions.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler claimed in December 2018 that the U.S. was meeting its commitments to reduce emissions under the Paris Agreement despite President Donald Trump's plan to withdraw from the accord.