Jan 11, 2022
Greenhouse gas emissions in the US went way up in 2021. They had decreased a lot in 2020 as a result of COVID-19 lockdowns. The lockdowns sharply reduced energy use. New figures show the increase came as we returned to more of a normal life.
Overall emissions climbed 6.2% last year. A 17% spike in coal-fire electricity use partly fueled the increase. Emissions from transportation rose 10%. That's the biggest source of US greenhouse gasses. Last year’s emissions still came in 5% lower than the pre-pandemic 2019.
But the increase dampened hopes that the lockdowns would bring long-lasting lifestyle changes. That’s after people worked from home regularly. And car and air travel declined a lot. “We are doing exactly the opposite of what we need to be doing,” said a researcher at the firm that released the figures.
Experts expect the emissions to keep rising this year. So, it will be even harder for President Biden to hit his target. He hopes to halve US emissions by 2030. That’s a key part of his strategy to meet internationally agreed upon targets. They're meant to avoid the serious consequences of climate change . And Biden’s “Build Back Better” spending bill has stalled in Congress. It includes $555 billion to reduce emissions and expand clean energy.
A Washington Post analysis last week found that more than 40% of those in the US live in counties struck by climate-related extreme weather last year.
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