Earth Day fact: The US leads the world in cutting emissions

It’s the good news that must be too good to share. Why else would media keep it to themselves?

But since I already slipped up and told everyone, here are the highlights:

  • The U.S. leads the world in cutting carbon dioxide emissions.
  • U.S. emissions are at their lowest level since 1992.
  • Per-capita U.S. emissions haven’t been this low since 1950.
  • Carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S. are down 15.7 percent since 2007 and are still falling.
  • Carbon dioxide emissions in Europe are down 12.7 percent since 2007 but have been rising since 2014.
  • Carbon dioxide emissions are rising in 14 out of 19 larger European Union nations, including “ideal” climate nations Germany, Spain, France, and the Netherlands.
  • In 2017, the U.S. reduced its carbon dioxide emissions by 42 million tons, the biggest reduction among the nations.
  • It was the third year in a row the U.S. had the largest decline in emissions in the world — the ninth time this century.
  • Emissions have been falling all century in North Carolina, too.
  • Cutting emissions in the US (and NC) are driven not by government actions, but by market choices. These include technological change creating more efficient use of resources, consumer preference for more efficient goods and services, an economy shifting more toward the service sector and away from manufacturing.
  • The biggest market-driven cause is the innovation in hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), which brought about cheap, plentiful, clean-burning natural gas that is price-competitive to coal.

Jon Sanders / Director of Regulatory Studies

Jon Sanders studies regulatory policy, a veritable kudzu of invasive government and unintended consequences. As director of regulatory studies at the John Locke Foundation, Jo...

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