The U.S. Has Cut Emissions by the Biggest Amount in History for a Single Nation (1)

–The reduction in 2020 alone is more than Canada’s entire energy emissions in 2019

By Mathew Carr

Jan. 12, 2021 — (LONDON): The United States cut carbon dioxide emissions by the largest amount ever for a single nation last year, as the coronavirus pandemic forced a massive reduction in the transport of its people.

The U.S. emissions probably fell around 630 million tons of CO2, according to this Tweet from scientist Glen Peters, research director at @CICERO_klima:

I highlight the relevant part of the chart here with a large red arrow:

The reduction alone is more than the entire energy emissions of Canada in 2019, or 556 million tons, according to statistics from BP Plc.

The only comparable drop I could find using the BP dataset was in 1985, when emissions in the Commonwealth of Independent States dropped 714 million tons as the USSR split. That’s some interesting company for 2020 USA.

The estimated global decline in 2020 is also a record according to Peters: “A drop of 2.4 billion tons of CO₂ has not been seen before, but emissions have not been this high either.”

Emissions are still so high on a historical basis that concentrations of heat-trapping gas continue to rise, threatening global warming, storms, droughts — the worst impacts of climate change. A lower volume of emissions means less is absorbed by forests:

It will be interesting to see how outgoing President Donald Trump frames the U.S. decline if he ever speaks publicly about it.

(Updates with CIS/USSR, context on the size of the drop vs Canada; adds forest sink impact)


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