Coal-to-gas switch spurs 3% drop in energy emissions

By Christa Marshall | 04/26/2024 06:52 AM EDT

Mild winter weather and increasing air and car travel also affected carbon dioxide emissions from electricity, fuel and heating.

U.S. energy-related carbon dioxide emissions dropped last year as coal-fired power plants retired, but output of the greenhouse gas remained flat in the transportation and industrial sectors, according to a federal analysis Thursday.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration said energy emissions declined 3 percent overall from 2022 to 2023 as natural gas and renewables made up a larger share of the electricity mix. The power sector alone saw a 7 percent decline in CO2 emissions.

But the numbers also underscore the challenge in cutting emissions from sectors with few low-carbon alternatives and surging demand. Overall emissions from transportation, for example, stayed largely flat — partly because an increase in airplane and car travel offset less fuel use from diesel vehicles and marine shipping.


Emissions in the residential and commercial sectors dropped 8 and 4 percent respectively, driven by milder weather that reduced heating and cooling demand.