Carbon Dioxide Emissions By Sector – Moving 12-Month Total
Source: DOE, EIA, May 2016 Monthly Energy Review
This year, for the first time since 1979, America’s cars, trucks, and airplanes began emitting more carbon dioxide than its power plants. That’s because, over the last decade, the U.S. has made remarkable progress in switching over to cleaner fuels in the electricity sector. We can expect that trend to continue, aided by ever cheaper renewables, new technologies and policies making grids more flexible, and stagnating electricity demand thanks to improvements in energy efficiency.
But power plants are only about one-third of America’s CO2 emissions. Transportation, another third, and tougher to address. Oil still remains by far the dominant source of fuel and there’s no readily available substitute. And, improvements in vehicle efficiency are now being offset by low oil prices. Americans are driving more, and driving bigger vehicles once again. Even if America’s vehicle fleet undergoes an electric-car revolution, still a possibility, that would still leave air travel and long-haul trucking. They make up about one-third of transport emissions. Clearly, we still have a long way to go in greening our transportation.
Read more in an article by Brad Plumer in Vox, citing a chart by EPIC’s Sam Ori: “Power plants are no longer America’s biggest climate problem. Transportation is.“