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The Carbon Emissions from Energy Consumption in the United States Reduced

CO2 emissions from Energy Consumption in the United States fell to their lowest level since 1983 in 2020, as the country responded to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to our Monthly Energy Review, the 4.6 billion metric tonnes (Bmt) of CO2 emitted in 2020 was an 11 percent decrease from 2019, the largest annual decrease on record. CO2 emissions from Energy Consumption in the United States by source and sector are depicted in our new CO2 emissions by energy source and sector chart.

In 2020, petroleum consumption in the United States accounted for 2.0 Bmt of energy-related CO2 emissions, or about 45 percent of total CO2 emissions in the United States. In 2020, the transportation sector accounted for roughly 77 percent of all petroleum CO2 emissions. Natural gas usage in the United States accounted for 1.7 billion metric tonnes of CO2 emissions in 2020, or nearly 36% of total CO2 emissions, the highest share on record.

The Carbon Emissions from Energy Consumption in the United States ReducedIn 2020, the electric power sector accounted for around 38% of CO2 emissions from natural gas, while the industrial sector accounted for 32%. Coal use accounted for 0.9 Bmt of CO2 emissions in 2020, or around 19% of overall CO2 emissions, the lowest total amount and share of total CO2 emissions in our annual data period dating back to 1973.

The electric power industry accounted for almost 90% of CO2 emissions from coal in 2020. Over the last decade, coal consumption in the electric power sector has decreased, with natural gas and renewable energy taking its place. Because the electric power sector consumes intermediate amounts of energy, its CO2 emissions are proportionate to the amount of electricity sold to each consumer sector in this graph. Despite the fact that coal accounted for 19 percent of energy generation in the electric power sector last year, coal will account for 54 percent of CO2 emissions from electric power in 2020.

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