United States

Making progress despite policy gridlock

The United States has created a “messy but useful” combination of incentives, regulation, persuasion, and innovation at the federal and state level, which has contributed to a recent decline in emissions. Sustaining and escalating this emissions decline while creating more cost-effective policy in the face of tightened government spending is the next challenge.

subjectEmissions Drivers

These graphs show the changes in emissions drivers in the Power, Buildings, Industry, Transportation, and Agriculture sectors in US

 
 
 

Power Power sector variables and impact on average emissions factor


The expansion and increased availability of nuclear in the 1980s and 1990s offset growing emissions from coal. In the 2000s, most factors were aligned to improve emissions intensity, including increasing renewables output and gas replacing coal.

     
     
     
     

    Industry Energy intensity by sector


    As manufacturing grew, industrial sectors generally improved their energy intensity, but in some cases performance declined. Structural changes to U.S. industry led to lower emissions intensity.

       
       
       
       

      Buildings Contribution of key drivers to increase or decrease of annual buildings emissions


      Growth in population and floor space per person were the largest drivers of buildings emissions. In the late 2000's, energy efficiency gains caught up with slowing floor space growth.

         
         
         
         

        Transport Emissions intensity


        Large gains in vehicle engine and transmission efficiency did not result in significant fuel efficiency gains, as cars became heavier. There was little shifting between transport modes (not shown).