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Energy and the environment explained Outlook for future emissions

EIA projects U.S. total annual carbon dioxide emissions to be lower in 2050

In the Annual Energy Outlook 2020 (AEO2020) Reference case, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects that total U.S. energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions will decrease until the mid-2020s, mainly as a result of changes in the fuel mix consumed by the electric power sector. After 2030, increases in energy demand in the other sectors—predominantly transportation and industrial—cause CO2 emissions to increase. However, EIA projects that total U.S. energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in 2050 will be about 4,922 million metric tons, or 4% below the amount in 2019. The AEO2020 Reference case generally assumes that current laws and regulations that affect the energy sector, including laws that have end dates, are unchanged throughout the projection period.

Line graph showing projected U.S. energy-related carbon dioxide emissions from 1990 to 2050 in EIA's Annual Energy Outlook 2020 Reference case.

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Annual Energy Outlook 2020, January 2020

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Line graph showing projected U.S. energy-related carbon dioxide emissions from 1990 to 2050 in EIA's Annual Energy Outlook 2020 Reference case.

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Annual Energy Outlook 2020, January 2020

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World carbon dioxide emissions are projected to increase

EIA’s International Energy Outlook 2019 Reference case projects that global energy-related CO2 emissions will grow 0.6% per year from 2018 to 2050. However, projected future growth in energy-related CO2 emissions is not evenly distributed across the world: relatively developed economies collectively have no emissions growth, so all of the projected future growth in energy-related CO2 emissions is among the group of countries outside the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Line graph showing projected world energy-related carbon dioxide emissions from 1990 to 2050 for OECD and non-OECD countries in EIA's International Energy Outlook 2019 Reference case.

Note: OECD is Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, International Energy Outlook 2019, September 2019

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Last updated: Febuary 6, 2020