WASHINGTON – America’s greenhouse gas emissions from energy and industry decreased by more than 10 percent in 2020, reaching their lowest levels in at least three decades as the Coronavirus pandemic criticized the brakes on the country’s economy, According to an estimate published Tuesday Made by the Rhodium Group.
However, the steep decline was the result of extraordinary conditions and experts warned that the country still faces enormous challenges in controlling pollution from global warming. In the coming years, it is widely expected that U.S. emissions will recover once the pandemic subsides and the economy returns to life – unless policy makers take stronger measures to clean up the nation’s power plants, factories, cars and trucks.
“The most significant cuts in the past year were related to transportation, which remains heavily dependent on fossil fuels,” said Kate Larsen, a director at the Rhodium Group, a research and consulting firm. “But as vaccines become more prevalent, and depending on how quickly people feel comfortable enough to drive and fly again, we expect emissions to return unless major policy changes are implemented.”
Before the outbreak of the pandemic, America’s emissions had been slowly but surely declining since 2005, due in large part to utilities that generate electricity. It was moved away from coalDirtier fossil fuels, in favor of cheaper and cleaner natural gas, wind and solar energy. Over the past decade, utilities have shut down hundreds of coal-fired power plants despite President Trump’s efforts to revive the industry.