Carbon emissions from natural gas associated with the energy sector in the US are to exceed those from coal this year for the first time since 1972.
That’s a result of an increase in natural gas usage and fall in coal consumption in the past decade, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA).
It projects energy-related CO2 emissions from natural gas to be 10% greater than coal in 2016.
From 1990 to 2005, coal and natural gas usage in the US was “relatively similar” but the former is more carbon intensive – around 82% higher.
The EIA states: “Because coal has a higher carbon intensity, even in a year when consumption of coal and natural gas were nearly equal, such as 2005, energy-related CO2 emissions from coal were about 84% higher than those from natural gas.”
Last year, the use of natural gas was 81% higher than coal and their emissions were “nearly equal”, with both fuels associated with around 1.5 billion metric tons of energy-related CO2 emissions.