Increased use of natural gas for power was a key factor in total US carbon dioxide emissions dropping 3.8% in 2012, falling to their lowest level since 1994, according to the US Energy Information Administration.
The US emitted 5,290 million mt of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere in 2012, the EIA said late Monday, compared with 5,498 million mt in 2011 and 5,262 million mt in 1994.
Natural gas prices averaged $2.66/Mcf in 2012, EIA said, the lowest in a decade. In response, gas generated 211.8 billion more kWh, while coal’s share of power generation dropped 215.2 kWh in 2012, EIA said.
“The increase in natural gas-fired generation, while coal-fired generation decreased, substantially reduced the carbon intensity of electricity generation in 2012,” EIA said.
Over the last five years the carbon intensity of the US economy has dropped 6%, as the carbon intensity of electricity has dropped 13% because on increased coal-to-gas switching, EIA said.