UMD researchers Drs. Kuishuang Feng, Klaus Hubacek, Laixiang Sun, in collaboration with Dr. Steven Davis, University of California Irvine, published an article on Drivers of the US CO2 emissions 1997–2013 in Nature Communications.
After decades of steady increases, climate change-causing emissions of carbon dioxide in the U.S. decreased by 11% between 2007 and 2013. Many have assumed that the drop in emissions reflects a shift away from coal energy and towards lower-carbon natural gas made cheap by the hydraulic fracturing boom. However, most of the credit should instead been given to the global financial recession, according to their study. The study results, which appear June 21 in the journal Nature Communications, are based on economic analysis of energy use and emissions in the U.S. between 1997 and 2013. Between 2007 and 2009, when U.S. emissions plummeted by 10%, there was a substantial decrease in the volume of goods and services being consumed in the U.S. and also a shift in the types of goods and services being produced. The new study finds that, together, these changes in consumption and production account for more than three-quarters of the decrease in emissions between 1997 and 2013, with changes in the mix of fuels used to generate energy accounting for just 18% of the drop in emissions.
For additional information, please read the UMD press release. The publication has been discussed in media outlets around the world including the Smithsonian, the LA Times, Science Magazine, BBC, Agence France Press and CBS news.