More on Natural Gas' Role in 'Decoupling' Economic Growth, Emissions

December 9, 2016

The concept that economic growth doesn’t have to be accompanied by rising carbon emissions – dubbed “decoupling” by the New York Times – has additional detail in a new Brookings Institution report that finds more than 30 states have seen those historical partners delinked and headed in different directions.

Though Brookings credits state and local efforts for the majority of this emissions reduction progress between 2000 and 2014, cleaner-burning natural gas is the real hero. It can’t be ignored that of the 34 states where economic growth and carbon emissions growth have been decoupled, two-thirds use natural gas as a primary or secondary fuel source in power generation. In 11 states, the average percentage of net electricity generation from natural gas as a primary fuel was 56.1 percent in 2014. And, in 11 additional states natural gas was the secondary fuel used in power generation at an average of 22.3 percent.  Brookings:

[I]t is clear that many states have made progress in delinking emissions from growth through the replacement of coal-burning power plants with natural gas-fired plants or, in some cases, renewables. Nuclear generation and changes in states’ industrial structure have played a role as well. And while formal statistical analyses of the role of clean energy policy in decarbonization are also beyond the scope of this study, it is fair to say that state- and city-level policy choices have also contributed to decoupling and decarbonization. In short … state-level policy choices and economic trends have fostered solid momentum that in many places could proceed even without federal leadership.

Even a slight increase in the amount of natural gas used in power generation results in significant reductions in energy-related carbon dioxide emissions....

Read entire article at Energy Tomorrow.

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