Turning the corner on US power sector CO2 emissions – a 1990-2015 state level analysis


Total CO2 emissions from the United States power sector increased over the period 1990–2005, but peaked soon after, and by 2015 they had declined by 20% compared to 2005. This study analyzes the supply-side drivers of the increasing trend up until 2005 as well as the factors across US states that enabled significant reductions in the following decade. Using index decomposition analysis, we show that the two main factors driving the CO2 decrease were natural gas substituting for coal and petroleum, and large increases in renewable energy generation (primarily wind)—which were responsible for 60% and 30% of the decline respectively since 2005. Both effects were concentrated in states where low natural gas prices or a combination of federal tax credits, state energy policies, decreasing costs of renewables, and advantageous wind conditions drove significant reductions of CO2 emissions—resulting in the overall national emissions decline.

Kristina Mohlin, Alex Bi, Susanne Brooks, Jonathan Camuzeaux and Thomas Stoerk (2019). In: Environmental Research Letters, 14(084049): 1-13.