The ‘dirty’ U.S. economy bounced back faster than overall growth last year — here’s how

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US greenhouse gas emissions rebounded from the COVID-19 slowdown faster than the overall economy improved in 2021, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Rhodium Group.

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Energy analysts had expected to see a planet-warming emissions return as industrial production increased and more freight moved in 2021 than in 2020. Still, the increase in pollution exceeded expectations, said Kate Larsen, a partner at the Rhodium Group and co-author. Report, They say.

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Based on preliminary data for 2021, the Rhodium Group estimates that economy-wide GHG emissions increased by 6.2% compared to 2020, although emissions remained 5% below 2019 levels.

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Even by the end of October 2021, the International Monetary Fund was forecasting a 6% growth in US GDP, more than recovering from a 3.4% drop in 2020. But with its expected pull on the rise and development of the Omicron version, experts have since revised expectations. As of January 7, 2021, Goldman Sach’s forecast of GDP growth in 2021 – which Rhodium uses for comparison – was 5.7%.

The largest increase in emissions in 2021 came from the transport sector, reflecting high demand for consumer goods freight. The transportation sector – which accounts for 31% of net US emissions – experienced the biggest decline in GHG emissions in 2020, falling more than 15% (283 million metric tons of CO2) below 2019 levels. In 2021, despite a seasonal rebound, aggregate transportation fuel demand did not fully return to 2019 levels. During the first two quarters of 2021, fuel demand increased as COVID-19 vaccines became available. However, the appearance of new variants and success cases in late summer reduced fuel demand for the rest of the year.

Although the transport of goods resumed, people remained largely stuck.

“Despite expectations that life will return to normal in 2021, passenger travel never fully recovered to 2019 levels,” said Rhodium analysts. Petrol RB00 after falling 13% in 2020,
-0.77%
Demand – indicating on-road passenger demand
Travel – grew rapidly through 2021, ending the year 10% above 2020 levels. Despite the dramatic jump (26%) of air travel in 2021, it remained 24% below 2019 levels.

The electric power sector, which accounts for 28% of net US emissions, saw the second largest increase in GHG emissions from 2020 levels. natural gas as NG00,
+2.33%
Prices rose, coal was re-used to power the grid.

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The increase in GHG emissions in 2021 takes the country even further from meeting the Paris Agreement climate target of emissions 50-52% below 2005 levels by 2030. In 2020, due to the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, emissions fell 22.2% below 2005 levels. In 2021, US emissions ticked up 17.4% below 2005 levels.

Against this background, the Biden administration and major Democrats are trying to push through a comprehensive spending package known as Build Back Better, which includes a number of climate change provisions and is meant to increase infrastructure spending. to piggy back with and executive Order With the aim of supporting the electrification of the government vehicle fleet and greater conversion to solar and wind power.

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