Tuesday, August 06, 2013

‘American Carbon’ Enters World Economy And Atmosphere At Fastest Pace Ever


By Joe Romm on August 6, 2013

The UK Guardian has a must-read piece for those who believe the shale gas revolution will save us from climate catastrophe, “The rise and rise of American carbon.”

As illustrated in this chart, while U.S. carbon emissions have dropped somewhat in recent years — thanks to energy efficiency, renewables, the recession, and shale gas — America’s contribution to the global problem of ever-rising carbon production and consumption grows unabated.


Whatever benefit the shale-gas revolution has had in reducing US emissions — a benefit that would appear to be seriously vitiated by huge methane leaks according to yet another major NOAA study — it has also been vitiated by our continued coal extraction for export.

And that is entirely separate from the issue of how much of our carbon emissions we have outsourced to China by virtue of our exploding trade deficit with the biggest carbon polluter in the world. We know in the case of Britain that that “the increase in carbon emissions from goods produced overseas that are then used in Britain are now outstripping the gains made in cutting emissions here.”



Duncan Clark
theguardian.com, Monday 5 August 2013

You've probably heard that US carbon emissions have been falling.


On the other hand, you may also have heard that US coal exports have increased as its domestic emissions have fallen.


To explore this issue I propose considering an unfamiliar metric: not carbon emissions but carbon extraction. After all, the climate doesn't care where a unit of carbon is burned; just whether it comes out of the ground and enters the atmosphere. It makes sense to ask, therefore, whether the US is now extracting more or less carbon than it was before the shale gas boom. Has coal production fallen enough to offset rising gas production?


Now let's stack all those fuels on top of each other to see total carbon extraction. The resulting graph shows that that there has been no decline in the amount of carbon the US is taking out of the ground. In fact, the trend is upwards. The latest year for which full data is available – 2011 – is the highest level on record, at 5288 MT of potential CO2, a fraction higher that the previous peak in 2008. Despite or because of the shale gas revolution, 'American carbon' is flowing into the global economy and atmosphere faster than ever.

----- [see link above for graph]

No comments:

Post a Comment