Greenhouse gas emissions across the United States rose by 6 percent in 2021 following the reopening of the economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to data from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), despite the Biden administration’s aggressive push to cut down emissions.
In 2021, net U.S. greenhouse gas emissions were 5,586 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, marking a 6 percent increase due to economic activity rebounding and overall demand for electricity rising, the EPA said.
According to the data (pdf), transportation activities were the largest source (29 percent) of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2021, followed by the electric power sector, which accounted for 25 percent.
The industrial sector accounted for 24 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in the same year, while agriculture accounted for roughly 10 percent. The commercial and residential sectors accounted for 7 percent and 6 percent, respectively, of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2021, according to the data.
Despite the annual increase, net emissions were 17 percent below 2005 levels, which the agency said was partly due to a shift toward less CO2-intensive natural gas for generating electricity and a rapid increase in the use of renewable energy in the electric power sector.
Preliminary data also shows that transportation sector emissions increased by 2 percent in 2022 compared to 2021, despite President Joe Biden’s attempts to get Americans to purchase electric vehicles, which are more costly than traditional gas-powered automobiles.
Biden’s Push to Reduce Emissions
Overall, U.S. net electricity production from the electric power sector increased by 3 percent. Still, emissions decreased by less than 1 percent, which the agency said was due, in part, to reduced coal use and increased use of natural gas.
“In 2022, coal use decreased by about 6 percent, and natural gas use increased by about 8 percent in the electric power sector. The growth in renewable sources continued with electricity production from renewable energy use increased by about 12 percent in 2022,” the agency said.
That is despite tens of billions of dollars being spent on renewable energy production amid the Biden administration’s push to cut total greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50 percent by 2030 in an effort to tackle what he says is a “climate crisis.”
Biden’s latest fiscal year 2024 budget calls for billions more for climate change over the next decade to help bolster the “resilience of our nation’s defense to climate change.”
However, many experts have argued that the administration, along with environmental groups—some of whom have compared its impact to a nuclear holocaust—is drastically exaggerating the effect of global warming and creating panic.
In an interview with psychology professor Jordan Peterson earlier this year, Steven Koonin, a professor at New York University’s Department of Civil and Urban Engineering and who once served as undersecretary for science at the Department of Energy, noted that while climate change is a “long-term problem,” it is one that we can “deal with.”
No Need for ‘Alarm Bells’
“There’s no reason to ring alarm bells,” Koonin said.
Additionally, Republican lawmakers have blamed the Biden administration’s energy policies for pushing up energy prices, which have risen further in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Separate data published earlier this month by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) showed that atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide continued to rise last year.
According to that data, carbon dioxide levels rose by 2.13 parts per million (ppm) for the 11th consecutive year, which is roughly the same rate observed during the last decade, while methane levels increased to an average of 1,911.9 parts per billion (ppb).
“The 2022 methane increase was 14.0 ppb, the fourth-largest annual increase recorded since NOAA’s systematic measurements began in 1983, and follows record growth in 2020 and 2021,” NOAA said. “Methane levels in the atmosphere are now more than two and a half times their pre-industrial level.”
Nitrous oxide emission rose by 1.24 ppb to 335.7 ppb, which is tied with 2014 as the third-largest jump since 2000 and is also a 24 percent increase over pre-industrial levels, according to NOAA.
“The observations collected by NOAA scientists in 2022 show that greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise at an alarming pace and will persist in the atmosphere for thousands of years,” said NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad.