Coal to blame? Emissions up in 2013

FEDERAL energy officials are pointing at an increase in coal consumption in the generation sector for an expected 2% increase in carbon dioxide levels for whole-year 2013 versus 2012’s numbers.

Donna Schmidt

The US Energy Information Administration confirmed Monday that, according to its compiled data, energy-related C02 emissions for all of 2013 are projected to be up about 2% year-on-year, though they are down more than 10% versus 2005.

Officials called the drop a “significant contribution” towards the Obama Administration’s goal: a 17% reduction in emissions from 2005 to 2020.

The upped number is tied primarily to a “small increase” in coal consumption in the nation’s electric power sector, and the EIA said that coal has regained some market share from natural gas since last April’s low.

However, the impact on overall emissions trends remains fairly small, it said.

On the positive said, the agency said that the level of reduction being realized is expected to continue through 2015.

“C02 emissions from energy activities declined four out of six years since their 2007 peak, and were historically low in 2012,” the EIA said.

It also noted that, between 2005 and 2013, there were key energy-economic drivers to the changing US energy landscape.

Some of these included a weak economic growth which dampened growth in energy demand versus pre-recession expectations and continuously improving energy efficiency across the economy.

Other factors steering that change, it said, included high energy prices over the past four years (except for natural gas), an abundant and inexpensive supply of natural gas thanks to new technologies, and power sector decarbonization since 2010 which has come about more and more as natural gas and renewables have displaced coal.