EIA: Energy-Related CO2 Emissions Drop Significantly in 2012; Transportation-Related Energy Consumption Down 22%


According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), energy-related CO2 emissions in the US dropped to the lowest level since 1994 and are down 12% from the recent 2007 peak.

Use of Coal is Diminishing

Use of Coal is Diminishing

That’s overall energy-related CO2 emissions.  What if we examine energy consumption with a focus on the transportation sector?

As the EIA reports, energy consumption in the transportation sector was 513 trillion Btu in 2012, while total energy consumption in the US was 2.4 quadrillion Btu.  Even at 2.4 quadrillion Btu, energy consumption was down 2.4 percent in 2012, as compared to 2011.  The biggest contributor to the decline in energy consumption was residential usage (i.e. more efficient refrigerators in use and CFL or LED bulbs replacing incandescent).

Outside of the residential sector, transportation saw the biggest decline in energy use.  Going from 2011 to 2012, the transportation sector saw a 22% drop in energy consumption.  This drop comes despite the fact that vehicle miles per day were the same (8,072,000,000 per day) for 2011 and 2012.  So, we’re not driving less, but more efficient vehicles and plug ins are reducing energy consumption in the transport sector.

Remarkably, both emissions and consumption are down in recent years.  In fact, the trend shows that a decline occurred in 5 out of the last 7 years.  That’s a trend we’d like to see continue.

Source: Energy Information Administration

Categories: General


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11 Comments on "EIA: Energy-Related CO2 Emissions Drop Significantly in 2012; Transportation-Related Energy Consumption Down 22%"

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Some good news for the weekend. Interesting, the consistent dip in Feb. Is that because it only has 28/29 days?

Josh Bryant

Looks like it. It is a 10% drop in days from Jan. You can actually see the trend in the 30/31 day months also.


The graph would be much better presented if the vertical scale were per diem. There are probably better ways to plot the data to make the desired points.


That and no major traveling holidays. Notice Nov and Dec go up most years while there is a big decline in October.

George Bower

I wonder why hydro fell so much: drought?


-data will under rate home charging, for transportation going fwd.
-hydro can vary 80-130%, on flow rates. 2011 was 130% for at least one hydro I follow. So, less in ’12 possible.
-2012 was the year of the <$2 mmbtu natural gas trough

Ocean Railroader

This might explain why gas prices have not been that aggressive in terms of going up such as in order for gas prices to go up and up the demand would have to go up and up month after month while supply would stay the same. Or you could have the same demand while the supply is going down slowly.

But in this case you have a odd salutation most likely for the first time in US history where the miles traveled is staying the same and the amount of fossil fuel used has gone down 22% thanks in large part to the hybrids and electric cars finally getting out on the road on mass. Even if the oil markets where tightening across the globe and this trend was going on in the US it would take massive amounts of pressure off of the global markets which would at least make steady gas prices instead of rapidly growing gas prices.

I still think if the Nissan Leaf had been around during the 2007 gas price peak with leases at $200 month they would have easily had demand for 5000 to 10,000 of them a month.

Marc Lausier

According to Keeling Curve data which has been collected since 1958, atmospheric CO2 has increased 27% in the last 55 years…a nanosecond in geological time. In May it briefly exceeded 400 parts per million (ppm). The level above which damage occurs to the planet has been acknowledge to be 350ppm…that was reached 27 years ago! The COAL burning industrial sector is the #1 emitter and the FOSSIL-FUELED transportation sector is #2. All the so-called remedies have NOT substantially mitigated the inexorable CO2 rise since only a fundamental change in the way we produce & use energy will accomplish that. Carbon capture and sequestration would have to done on a massive scale and would require a massive amount of energy…it is as illogical as closing the barn door after all the animals are out. The movement into electric vehicles and a mandated discontinuance of ICE will have the needed impact.


I fail to see the 22% drop 2011 to 2012 in the transportation sector. The curves for 2011 and 2012 do not indicate such a drop. The report means a 22% drop for residential use due to a much milder winter in 2012.

Suprise Cat

Yes, there is no way, that transportation efficiency has increased over 20% in a single year. Realistic would be something <5%.


Another factor is that older hybrids tend to outlast there ICE counterparts.