The Energy Information Administration last week released its monthly report on the short-term energy outlook for the U.S., in which it found that the bad economy and decreased energy consumption will likely reduce the country’s total carbon dioxide emissions by 6 percent this year.
This means the United States is on track to come in at 8.5 percent below 2005 levels of carbon dioxide by the end of this year, which is exactly halfway to the emissions cuts outlined for 2020 in the climate bill that passed the House in June.
Joe Romm has more at Climate Progress, where he argues that this should bolster efforts to get a tougher near-term target in the pending Senate climate bill. The House bill’s 17 percent target “just got even easier than it already was,” notes Romm. He also argues that this finding should prompt Congress to ask the EIA for revised projections of emissions for the next decades, and that they should factor in the reductions that will come from the Obama administration’s revised fuel-economy standards for automobiles (which are expected to be announced later today).
This also means that the various agencies toiling away at predictions for how much carbon dioxide reductions would cost the economy should perhaps revisit their predictions. The Congressional Budget Office, the EIA and the Environmental Protection Agency have all offered figures on the economic impacts of emissions reductions, but if the country is already halfway to the targets, the cost would likely be significantly lower.
And it means that the authors of climate legislation will want to dial back the number of allowances put into the market. As the example of the Northeast’s Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative demonstrates, accurate accounting will be key to maintaining the integrity of a cap-and-trade program.