U.S. greenhouse gas emissions rose in 2022, by 1.3% compared to the previous year according to preliminary estimates by environmental consultancy Rhodium Group.
That increase in emissions is mainly caused by sharp rise from the country’s buildings, industry and transport. The electric sector emitted slightly less, largely due to natural gas replacing coal in power stations and increased use of renewable energy.
Transportation and industry saw an increase in emissions by 1.3% and 1.5%, respectively. The two sectors make up two-thirds of total U.S. emissions.
Total US emissions of 5.6 billion tonnes in 2022 keep the country as the second largest source of greenhouse gases after China.
The 74 million-tonne increase in the US’ carbon dioxide equivalent emissions last year was greater than the total emissions of some European countries, but far smaller than the 6.5% leap (350 million tonnes) recorded in 2021 after authorities eased lockdowns imposed during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The emissions trend puts the US further out of sync with the administration of Joe Biden’s climate goals, Rhodium said in a report.
The U.S. only hit 15.5% below 2005 levels last year, falling behind its target set under the Paris Agreement to reduce GHG emissions 50-52% below 2005 levels by 2030.
Major clean energy subsidies included in the sweeping Inflation Reduction Act passed by the US Congress last year could start to reduce the country’s emissions as early as this year, Rhodium said, “if the government can fast track implementation.”
“More aggressive policies are needed” to halve emissions by 2030, said Rhodium.
Reforms to US infrastructure permitting rules that have so far proven elusive is pivotal to achieve Biden’s climate targets, the report said.
Rhodium said the 13% increase in emissions last year was less than the estimated pace of economic growth of 1.9% in 2022 — a sharp contrast with the economy’s “carbon-intensive rebound” in 2021.
In 2022, emissions from buildings — primarily for their heating and cooling — rose by 6%, Rhodium said. The 1% fall in power sector emissions last year was “largely due to the substitution of coal with natural gas — a less carbon-intensive fuel — and a rise in renewable energy generation.”