US natural gas emissions to surpass coal in 2016

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 […]

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By Priyanka Shrestha

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.