Covid has taken a bite out of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States in 2020

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WASHINGTON – US greenhouse gas emissions from energy and industry fell more than 10% in 2020, reaching their lowest level in at least three decades as the coronavirus pandemic slowed down the country’s economy, according to an estimate released Tuesday by the Rhodium group.

The sharp drop, however, was the result of extraordinary circumstances and experts warned the country still faces enormous challenges in bringing its pollution under global warming under control. In the years to come, U.S. emissions are expected to rebound once the pandemic recedes and the economy comes back to life – unless policymakers take stronger action to clean up power plants, factories. , cars and trucks of the country.

“The biggest cuts last year were in transportation, which remains heavily dependent on fossil fuels,” said Kate Larsen, director of Rhodium Group, a research and consultancy firm. “But as vaccines become more and more popular and depending on how quickly people feel comfortable enough to drive and fly again, we would expect emissions to rebound unless major policy changes are put in place. ”

Before the pandemic hit, U.S. emissions had been declining slowly but steadily since 2005, in large part because utilities that generate electricity moved away from coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel, in favor of gas. cheaper and cleaner natural, wind and solar energy. Over the past decade, utilities have decommissioned hundreds of coal-fired power plants despite President Trump’s efforts to revive the industry.

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