Report: Emissions Rise in 2021 During COVID Recovery, Natural Gas Critical for Reductions

Emissions in the United States began to rise again in 2021 as the country began a slow recovery out of the COVID-19 pandemic following a historic drop amid widespread economic disruption in 2020, according to a new report from the consulting firm The Rhodium Group.

Comments from the report’s co-author make clear that the shale revolution and increased use of natural gas for power generation was a major driver of emissions reductions over the past ten years and the recent spike in emissions can be credited to the increased use of higher emitting fuels in 2020.

Yet, emissions are still below 2019 levels as the country deals with the rising and falling waves of the pandemic and its effects on economic growth. The report states:

“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 percent relative to 2020, though emissions remained 5 percent below 2019 levels.” (emphasis added)

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