US greenhouse emissions increased by 6.2 percent last year

More people driving contributed to the increase.

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CANAKKALE, TURKEY – DECEMBER 17: Wind turbines are seen at the Akfen Renewable Energy Group’s, Canakkale Wind Power Plant,  on December 17, 2021 in Canakkale, Turkey. The Canakkale region of Turkey hosts more than 1000 operating wind turbines. In November, Turkey's installed wind power capacity reached 10,585 megawatts making it the second-largest renewable capacity after hydropower. In October, Turkey ratified the Paris Climate Agreement, becoming the last country in the G-20 group to do so and setting an aim for net-zero emissions by 2053 and a focus on new climate initiatives. However, gas and coal continue to be the primary fuel sources in the energy sector, forcing the government to shift towards renewables, such as geothermal, hydropower, wind and solar energy. Over recent years, Turkey has increased installed capacity of renewable sources of energy as it endeavors to cut its near total dependence on imported petroleum products. Oil and gas imports, much of which are used to generate electricity, have become a significant strain on foreign exchange reserves especially as the country deals with a dire economic crisis with the Turkish lira losing more than 40 percent of its value against the U.S dollar this year. However according to Turkey's Energy and Natural Resources Minister Fatih Donmez, Turkey’s power capacity in renewable energy reached approximately 53,000 megawatts at the end of October, and, on November 11, electricity production from wind power hit a historic daily record, generating 20.1 percent of total power. Turkey’s renewable energy capacity is predicted to grow by 50 percent from 2021 through 2026, according to a recent report by the International Energy Agency (IEA). (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Over the last year, US greenhouse emissions increased by 6.2 percent compared to 2020 levels, according to a new report from the Rhodium Group. The jump puts the country further behind meeting the reduction targets put forward by the Paris climate agreement. Under the deal, the US has pledged to reduce its greenhouse emissions between 50 percent and 52 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. As of last year, they were 17.4 percent below that benchmark. That’s a step back from the 22.2 percent reduction the country had achieved the year prior.

Behind the increase in overall emissions were corresponding jumps in pollution generated by the country’s transportation and power sectors. Compared to 2021, those sectors generated an additional 10 percent and 6.6 percent of greenhouse emissions. Driving those increases was a 17 percent increase in reliance on coal-generated power and more people driving after a pandemic-related downturn.

The report underscores how important is it is for the US to clean up its power grid and transportation sector. Another recent study found that wind and solar could meet 85 percent of the country’s current electricity needs. So much of whether the US will meet its Paris Agreement commitments will depend on if the country can mobilize investment as part of policies like President Biden’s Build Back Better Plan. The fate of the bill is uncertain, but what is clear is that the technology is there to enable a clean transition. Until recently, natural gas had never been more affordable, and yet it was still more expensive than renewable sources of energy

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