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Energy-related CO2 emissions set to rise in US, says EIA
In its January 2021 Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO), the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) forecasts that energy-related CO2 emissions in the US will increase in 2021, driven by economic growth and the lessening of pandemic-related restrictions. It expects total energy-related CO2 emissions to increase to 4.8bn tonnes in 2021 and 4.9bn tonnes in 2022.
US energy-related CO2 emissions fell by an estimated 11% in 2020, largely because of reduced travel and other factors that led to less energy consumption during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the short term, the EIA forecasts rising CO2 emissions as a result of economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, changes in fuel mix, and greater demand for residential electricity as colder winter weather leads to more heating demand in 2021.
It expects petroleum to account for about 46% of total US energy-related CO2 emissions in 2021 and 47% in 2022. Most of these emissions will come from the transportation sector as a result of increased travel as the economy recovers from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile, natural gas, which accounted for about 36% of total energy-related CO2 emissions in 2020, is expected to account for about 34% in 2021. Emissions from natural gas are declining mainly because natural gas consumption is declining as natural gas prices increase relative to coal prices. The EIA expected natural gas prices to increase by 98 cents/mn Btu in 2021, while prices for coal increase by 12 cents/mn Btu. As a result, it forecasts that natural gas’s share of total energy-related CO2 emissions will decline to 32% in 2022 as natural gas prices rise.
Coal accounted for 19% of total US energy-related CO2 emissions in 2020. The EIA expects this share of total emissions to rise to 21% in 2021 and 2022 as coal becomes more economical for use in electricity generation amid higher natural gas prices.