U.S. Department of Energy - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

Clean Cities

EIA: U.S. Energy-Related Carbon Dioxide Emissions Declined 7% in 2009

May 19, 2010

A new analysis from DOE's Energy Information Administration (EIA) demonstrates that an economic downturn is good for one thing, at least: reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Energy-related carbon dioxide emissions in the United States declined by a record 7% in 2009, partly due to a 2.4% decline in U.S. gross domestic product (GDP). The record drop in carbon dioxide emissions, totaling 405 million metric tons, was also caused by the ongoing trend toward a less energy-intensive economy and a decrease in the carbon-intensity of the energy supply. The carbon intensity of the U.S. energy supply, that is, the amount of carbon dioxide generated per unit of energy consumed, declined by 2.3%, thanks in part to the greater use of renewable energy, but also because of fuel switching from coal to natural gas. And despite the drop in GDP, the energy intensity of the economy, expressed as the energy consumed per dollar of GDP, declined by 2.4%. A key factor in that drop was that the output from energy-intensive industries, such as primary metals and non-metallic minerals, fell much faster than the total U.S. industrial production. U.S. greenhouse gas emissions are dominated by energy-related carbon dioxide emissions, so they generally follow the same trends. See the EIA press release and analysis.