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August 10, 2021

EIA expects 7% increase in U.S. energy-sector carbon dioxide emissions as economic activity increases during 2021

Increased economic activity and a changing fuel mix in the electric power sector in 2021 will lead to a significant increase in energy-related carbon dioxide emissions this year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) August Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO). After decreasing by 11% in 2020, U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions will increase by 7% to reach 4.9 billion metric tons this year.

EIA forecasts coal-related CO2 emissions will increase by 17% in 2021 because the share of U.S. electricity generated by coal has increased significantly this year.

“Despite significant growth in energy-related CO2 emissions as the U.S. economy opens up, we don’t see these emissions returning to pre-pandemic levels, at least in the short term,” said EIA Acting Administrator Steve Nalley.

EIA expects overall energy-related CO2 emissions to increase an additional 1% in 2022, and emissions from coal to decrease 7%.

Also in the STEO:

  • U.S. consumption of natural gas will decrease 1.0% in 2021, largely due to less electricity generated from natural gas. We forecast an 87% increase this year in delivered natural gas prices for the electric power sector, and these higher prices will make natural gas a less competitive electricity source.
  • Gasoline prices averaged $3.14 per gallon in July, the highest monthly average since October 2014. We expect prices to average $3.12 per gallon in August and $2.82 per gallon for the last quarter of 2021.
  • We expect that U.S. consumption of gasoline will average 9.0 million barrels per day in the second half of 2021, which remains below the 2019 average of 9.3 million barrels per day.

The entire Short-Term Energy Outlook is available on the EIA website.

The product described in this press release was prepared by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the statistical and analytical agency within the U.S. Department of Energy. By law, EIA’s data, analysis, and forecasts are independent of approval by any other officer or employee of the U.S. government. The views in the product and press release therefore should not be construed as representing those of the U.S. Department of Energy or other federal agencies.

EIA Program Contact: Tim Hess, STEO@eia.gov

EIA Press Contact: Chris Higginbotham, EIAMedia@eia.gov