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Power plants are no longer America’s biggest climate problem. Transportation is.
Here’s an important energy milestone: For the first time since 1979, America’s cars, trucks, and airplanes emit more carbon dioxide than its power plants do. The chart below comes from Sam Ori, executive director of the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago:
US CO2 emissions from transport exceeded those from power gen in the 12 months thru Feb 2016. First time since 1979. pic.twitter.com/noLi20P4Mp
— Sam Ori (@samori8) June 6, 2016
You can see the full data here. The basic story is that the United States has made stunning progress in cleaning up its electricity sector since 2005. Whenever you see exciting headlines about renewable energy growth or the fall in US emissions, those pieces are usually talking about electric power, per the chart above.
But power plants are only about one-third of America’s CO2 emissions. Transportation, another third (and now the biggest source), remains much tougher to address. In fact, since 2013, transport emissions have been creeping upward again.