Annual emissions from electricity generation in the US during 2012 were the lowest in eighteen years.
That’s according to the latest data released by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA).
Coal was the biggest faller with cleaner natural gas used instead. This is largely due to the low price of natural gas in the US as it continues to develop its shale gas resources.
“During 2012, particularly in the spring and early summer, low natural gas prices led to competition between natural gas- and coal-fired electric power generators,” said the EIA in a statement.
“Lower natural gas prices resulted in reduced levels of coal generation, and increased natural gas generation — a less carbon-intensive fuel for power generation, which shifted power generation from the most carbon-intensive fossil fuel (coal) to the least carbon-intensive fossil fuel (natural gas),” it continued.
Critics claim that US coal and its associated emissions are being exported overseas, particularly Europe resulting in no reduction in global greenhouse gas output, despite the positive US numbers.
Liquefied Natural Gas is around four times more expensive in Europe than the US making coal a cheaper option.
Germany has increased its coal fired electricity generation to fill the gap left by the shutdown of its nuclear program.