A recent study by the Rhodium Group reveals a 1.9% decrease in climate-altering pollution from greenhouse gases in the United States during 2023, marking a positive yet insufficient step toward meeting President Joe Biden’s commitment to halve emissions by 2030 compared to 2005 levels.
While acknowledging progress, the report underscores that the current pace puts the US on track for a 40% reduction below 2005 levels by the end of the decade.
To achieve Biden’s target, emissions must decline more than threefold from the 2023 rate and be sustained annually until 2030, according to Ben King, the study’s lead author.
The study identifies a 17.2% decrease in emissions since 2005, but warns that last year’s 1.9% decline is not sufficient for meeting ambitious climate goals.
The US economy’s projected 2.4% growth in 2023, fueled by increased energy production and transportation activities, may pose challenges to achieving substantial emission reductions.
The power and buildings sectors experienced reduced emissions, thanks to a mild winter and decreased coal-fired plant power generation.
However, the transportation sector saw an increase, driven by a resurgence in air travel and higher gasoline consumption as road traffic returned to pre-pandemic levels.
The report signals concerns for the future, highlighting a faster growth rate in natural gas generation compared to renewables in 2023.
Challenges for Wind Power Growth as Solar Surge
Despite solar installations heading for a record year, wind turbine installations declined, raising uncertainties about the trajectory of wind power’s growth.
The study also emphasizes the impacts of rising construction costs and supply-chain issues on wind power, as demonstrated by the cancellation of two major offshore wind projects, jeopardizing the Biden administration’s goal to power 10 million homes with ocean-based turbines by the decade’s end.
While President Biden passed a historic climate law in 2022 and initiated measures to combat methane emissions, the effects are yet to be fully realized.
The law provides substantial incentives for clean energy investments, but analysts anticipate it will take several years to significantly impact emissions.
US oil production reached a record high in 2023, contradicting Biden’s emission reduction efforts.
Methane leaks and emissions from oil and gas activities drove industrial sector emissions higher, with new EPA rules expected to reduce these emissions by nearly 40%, according to Rhodium estimates.
The study illustrates the importance of taking comprehensive measures to reduce carbon emissions in various industries such as iron and steelmaking, cement manufacturing, and chemical production.
These actions are crucial in addressing industrial emissions and aligning with global climate priorities.