ADVERTISEMENT
  About the SA Blog Network













Plugged In

Plugged In


More than wires - exploring the connections between energy, environment, and our lives
Plugged In HomeAboutContact

No shenanigans here, U.S. carbon emissions are down

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


Email   PrintPrint



U.S. energy-related carbon emissions are down in 2012 according to the Energy Information Administration:

Now there are several ways to say that carbon emissions are down. A common practice is to use carbon intensity, which is a handy policy metric for measuring carbon emissions against economic output (tons of carbon dioxide emissions to GDP). But a lot of the time carbon intensity can be used to distort just how much carbon emissions have gone up or down. Because it is a ratio, as long as GDP grows faster than carbon emissions, you will have a favorable outcome (assuming you desire lower carbon emissions).

But there is no fudging with the latest stats – both carbon intensity (above) and total carbon emissions are down:

I bring this up not to poo-poo carbon intensity – it is a decent policy metric and handy for comparing economies with each other, especially developing versus developed economies – but it is easy to selectively choose carbon intensity when it is most convenient. You can see this if you look at 1997. I could tell you that carbon intensity is down and therefore my policies are working just fine, but a look at the total energy-related carbon emissions would tell a different story.

David Wogan About the Author: An engineer and policy researcher who writes about energy, technology, and policy - and everything in between. Based in Austin, Texas. Comments? david.m.wogan@gmail.com Follow on Twitter @davidwogan.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





Rights & Permissions

Add Comment

Comments are closed.

More from Scientific American

Scientific American Holiday Sale

Black Friday/Cyber Monday Blow-Out Sale

Enter code:
HOLIDAY 2014
at checkout

Get 20% off now! >

X

Email this Article

X