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The Real Story of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

In our work to counter the misguided goals and flawed logic of the extremist wing of the climate debate, including the "Green New Deal" advocates, we have emphasized four facts: (1) increased use of natural gas is essential to reducing carbon emissions; (2) the United States leads the world in reducing CO2 emissions thanks to migration of electricity generation to natural gas and renewables; (3) the biggest greenhouse gas emitters are other countries, especially China and India; and (4) global climate will benefit greatly from exported US natural gas, requiring added production, midstream and export infrastructure here at home.

We are stressing these facts to provide some compelling talking points with your kids, co-workers, family, friends and neighbors, and your political leaders, who will benefit from some actual facts about greenhouse gasses. We must counter the inflated rhetoric and misleading claims of politicians and activist organizations whose true objectives are fundraising and vote-getting based on fear and claims of injustice.

Last week we pointed out that by 2030, China and India combined will annually pump 3.5 times the amount of CO2 into the atomsphere as the US, and account for 42% of global CO2 emissions versus the US's 12% (see graph at bottom). This week, we're sharing what we believe is the most compelling set of statistics on where the problem really lies, compliments of the anti-fossil fuel folks.

That's right. Over the services lives of their installed capacity, China's and India's coal plants together will emit twenty times more CO2 than will those in the US: over 204 billion metric tons of CO2 versus 10 billion tons from the US.

If these data are even roughly accurate, any activist who truly wants to bend the GHG curve downward will be packing his or her bags for Beijing and planning a demonstration in Tiananmen Square, with this chart on a big poster.

A bit of explanation: an anti-coal group known as "CoalSwarm" keeps a database of over 14,000 coal-fired power plants with over 30 megawatts of capacity globally by country, including those in operation and ones either under construction or fully permitted and soon to be built. The database estimates CO2 emissions based on plant type and capacity, tracks their ages since being placed in service, and assumes a service life of 40 years. Plants already over 40 years old are assumed to be operated for another 5 years.

EEIA will be sharing this information with everyone on Capitol Hill and in key statehouses, and we urge you you spread it far and wide as well.

Here's last week's chart for added impact.

Graph derived from EEIA's analysis of BP's June 2018 Statistical Review of World Energy. Trend lines compare CO2 emissions from the U.S. with the sum of China's and India's, the world's top three sources in 2018. Each country's average annual rate of emissions growth between 2010 and 2017 is projected to 2050. U.S. emissions are declining at about 1% per year while China's grow 1.5% and India's grow 3.9%. Looking back, US CO2 emissions in 2017 declined 14% since 2007 and are now less than their 1993 level.

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