The United States emitted less carbon dioxide in energy consumption in 2012. Though this doesn’t mean the U.S. is in the clear, it is a sign that there are improvements on the way. The Energy Information Administration released a report that showed as we use energy, the carbon dioxide we emit dropped 3.8 percent in 2012.
In 2007, emissions dropped from 6,023 million metric tons to 5,280 million metric tons in 2012. Furthermore, in 2011, carbon dioxide levels were at 5,498 million metric tons. This means that in 2012 the country released 218 million fewer metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Still, CO2 emissions in 2012 were at 368,000 pounds of pollution per second. However, this is the lowest emissions have been since 1994.
There are a few trends in the U.S. that have contributed to this. The drop in 2009 was due largely in part to the economic recession. However, falling carbon dioxide emissions in 2012 occurred while the GDP rose 2.8 percent, followed by a 2.8 percent decrease in energy consumption.
Overall, energy intensity in the U.S. has dropped. Energy use per dollar fell 6.5 percent. This is because the economy was able to do more with less energy. Furthermore, the U.S. has slowly been switching to natural gas rather than coal, which releases significantly more carbon dioxide. And, with alternative energy and technologies such as hybrid and electric cars, Americans are releasing less carbon dioxide of the energy they are consuming.
These numbers are encouraging however, Pennsylvania State University climate scientist Michael Mann told the AP that the drop “is the reason for cautious optimism that we’re already starting to move in the right direction, but this alone will not lead us toward the dramatic carbon reductions necessary to avoid dangerous climate change.” The report only mentions energy-related carbon emissions, but there are many other ways carbon is released into the atmosphere. However, the EPA will release a report in 2014 of all greenhouse gas emissions. Then, we will be able to get a better idea.