Energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions dropped nearly 3 percent last year, mainly driven by a significant fall in the electric power sector.
The new report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration indicated that overall energy-related CO2 emissions were 150 million metric tons lower than in 2018. About 96 percent of that decrease was attributed to the change fuel mix for power generation, according to the EIA.
Electric power sector emissions fell 8 percent in 2019. The transportation sector was only .2 percent lower, while industrial, residential and commercial were either higher or unchanged.
Most of the major utilities in the U.S. continue to swap out coal-fired power for gas-fired or zero-carbon renewables such as wind and solar. The overall renewable portion of the generation mix is getting closer to 20 percent.
The electric power sector accounted for nearly one-third of U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions in 2019; only the transportation sector emitted more CO2. Within the electric power sector, emissions from coal fell by 15% (177 MMmt) in 2019, and emissions from natural gas increased by 7% (40 MMmt).
U.S. electric power sector emissions have fallen 33% from their peak in 2007 because less electricity has been generated from coal and more electricity has been generated from natural gas (which emits less CO2 when combusted) and non-carbon sources. U.S. total energy-related CO2 emissions have fallen 15% since their 2007 peak.
Nuclear and renewable sources of electricity generation that do not emit carbon dioxide collectively reached a record-high 38% share of U.S. electric generation in 2019. Much of this growth came from continued construction of solar and wind capacity.