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Preliminary US Greenhouse Gas Emissions Estimates for 2021

Rhodium Group: “After the global pandemic spurred a year of economic upheaval in 2020, many looked to 2021 as a year for recovery. Despite the political and financial measures to support recovery in the US, 2021 was characterized by continued uncertainty as the country navigated a patchwork of COVID-19 prevention measures, access to vaccines, and the emergence of new variants. Consequently, the US economy—and production of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions—remained below pre-pandemic levels. Based on preliminary data for 2021, Rhodium Group estimates that economy-wide GHG emissions increased 6.2% relative to 2020, though emissions remained 5% below 2019 levels. We don’t have final estimates of overall economic growth for 2021, but current estimates put year-on-year GDP growth at 5.7%. This indicates that GHG emissions rebounded slightly faster than the overall economy in 2021, largely due to a jump in coal-fired power generation, which increased 17% from 2020, and a rapid rebound in road transportation (primarily freight). As a result, progress in reducing US GHG emissions was reversed in 2021, moving from 22.2% below 2005 levels in 2020 to only 17.4% in 2021, putting the US even further off track from achieving its 2025 and 2030 climate targets.

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