October 22, 2013 | Comments Off
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.