A Sliver of Good News: CO2 Emissions Drop by over 7%

(11 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

With as much horrific news that emanates from the Gulf of Mexico and with so many warning signs regarding the climate it was welcome news to see this today.

In 2009, energy-related carbon dioxide emissions in the United States saw their largest absolute and percentage decline (405 million metric tons or 7.0 percent) since the start of EIA’s comprehensive record of annual energy data that begins in 1949, more than 60 years ago.  While emissions have declined in three out of the last four years, 2009 was exceptional.  As discussed below, emissions developments in 2009 reflect a combination of factors, including some particular to the economic downturn, other special circumstances during the year, and other factors that may reflect persistent trends in our economy and our energy use.


This is welcome news and the trends are encouraging. One of the revelations of the analysis focuses on the effect of current GDP figures as an overall part of the decline. No doubt as one would expect the decline in emissions was influenced by the Great Recession but underlying the GDP figures the analysis found trends that should be persistent.

The EIA has a very interesting figure that examines all the key factors and shows GDP drop is only about a third of the reason:

Yes, some of the energy intensity drop is the increasing shift toward a service sector economy, but much of it is the gain in efficiency as a result of the recent energy price spikes coupled with what many think is the beginning of a permanent shift in petroleum consumption in transportation – a shift that is likely to be accelerated as concerns about peak oil turn out to be accurate.

Climate Progress

The trend is encouraging to see. It is a small beginning, a small shift. This shift may be beginning to become persistent in our economy but it is also starkly clear much more could be done with very little effort. Once the shift begins it will only accelerate if we have climate legislation in place to tackle the larger issues of weaning us off of deadly petroleum and coal. That we are still debating this with the disasters in the Gulf and the overwhelmingly obvious science of Climate change means we still have a very long way to go. Hopefully the arc of the parabolic is beginning to slope downward and we can bridge our energy future to a more sustainable path.

This is a tiny sliver of good news today. At this point I’m willing to hold onto anything.  May we look back and see that this was sustainable.

You can read the entire report here: EIA.gov

And a good summation by Joe Romm here: Climate Progress

In the meantime grab your bike and go for a carbon free ride…for now we are still stewards of this planet.

As Paul Newman said…”Meet the Future”



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  1. It seems this time the dislocation of our economy coupled with Peak Oil and technological innovation are beginning to turn the tide. We need leadership badly to steer us from the brink.

  2. is the quality and clarity of the EIA’s (short) report. It is accessible and lays out the material clearly. I’m ready to be corrected, but I don’t remember the Cheney-Bush EIA doing anything this well re carbon emissions.

    • Edger on May 6, 2010 at 18:25

    to car and gasoline sales in the same period? Is the decline paralleling the economic decline?

  3. I mean isn’t everybody sitting on the couch watching Good Morning America and collecting unemployment?  Massive numbers of people who have stopped buying all but the most essential items?  Plus I have never seen a year in which the Bilderberg meeting announcement and location came with the agenda of another year of economic depression.

  4. if this refers to US only.  The US and EU have simply outsourced much of their pollution to China, India, Mexico, etc etc..where air standards are presumably more lax.  

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