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Facts You Should Know
Thanks to Shale, America Is the Global Green Leader

Global greenhouse gas emissions stalled for the third year in a row in 2016, and environmentalists the world over are going to have to swallow their pride and give credit where credit is due: to the American shale revolution. The FT reports:

A striking drop in carbon pollution in the US, where emissions fell back to what they were in 1992, helped to keep global CO2 levels in 2016 virtually unchanged from the two previous years, the International Energy Agency said.

“This is a very welcome development,” said Fatih Birol, IEA executive director. “It appears we now have the first signs of an established trend of flat emissions as a result of natural gas replacing coal in major markets and renewables becoming more and more affordable.”

U.S. emissions dropped 3 percent last year, and that fall helped to stabilize the global number of emissions, even as the global economy grew. The IEA’s executive director, Fatih Birol, acknowledged natural gas as the first driver behind this new trend, because plentiful and cheap natural gas is displacing coal around the world, and emitting only half as much carbon in the process. The FT has more:

Gas emits half the carbon dioxide of coal. If carbon emissions are the main cause of global warming, then replacing coal with gas to generate power or heat makes sense. That switch has begun in the US, despite recent promises to put miners back to work. Coal provided almost half the fuel for electricity generation a decade ago. That proportion dropped to a third last year. Gas use, in turn, has increased markedly even though coal has been usually cheaper on an energy-equivalent basis.

Climate change is a monumental problem and it will continue to be one for the foreseeable future, but we’re not helpless in the face of this issue, and there are encouraging signs on this battle front if you know where to look. Europe, led by Germany, has been gripped by green mania in recent years, but has precious little to show for its efforts—Germany’s own emissions actually rose last year.

But here in the United States, the innovative combination of different technologies (hydraulic fracturing and horizontal well drilling) has set off an oil and gas boom that is both boosting the American economy and keeping our greenhouse gas emissions down. So while Berlin busies itself shutting down nuclear reactors and propping up expensive renewables with lavish government subsidies, Washington is actually doing the heavy lifting necessary to keep global emissions from rising.

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  • Gary Hemminger

    Unless someone thinks that natural climate change has somehow ended on Earth, then it is likely that even if mankind emits zero CO2 emissions, then it is still possible for the world to warm or to cool. Do people really think that naural climate variation has ended on Earth? Before man was even on Earth, the climate changed many times. Can someone provide me with their scientific proof on how to differentiate human caused from natural climate variation? I would love to see it, because according to many climate experts I have read, it is impossible right now to differentiate the two.

  • Gary Hemminger

    But to the point of the article, fracking has really helped lower CO2 emissions. But the folks at the American Interest must know that this isn’t going to change the mind of the greens. All fossil fuels are bad according to the greens. They never really cared about CO2 in the first place. they were just using it to make their points. Now once it is clear that emissions of CO2 are going down because of natural gas and fracking, they will drop CO2 reduction like a bad habit, and pick something else to demonize fossil fuels (or just ignore the reduction argument). Logic will not stand in the way of their religion. And that is what climate change is, it is a religion. You either believe or you don’t and no amount of logic or facts will move you.

  • markterribile

    Y’know, if Germany and China would buy and burn American coal instead of their lignite, their particulates and CO2 could both go down. Scrub the exhaust with lime and you get gypsum. (Which is why we shouldn’t give up on coal entirely.)

  • Angel Martin

    The joke is, if USA carbon emissions were rising, but America joined the Paris Agreement and completely ignored its provisions, “environmentalists” would be happier.

  • A Smith

    Climate change is a “monumental problem”?
    Six people got shot last night here in Chicago. That’s a bigger problem/monument, sorry.

  • bpbatista

    Climate change is a “monumental problem”? Since when? Can anyone name any specific problem — monumental or otherwise — that has been definitively caused by man-made climate change?

  • Paul Nelson

    “Climate change is a monumental problem …” and the explicit link to CO2 emissions is to overlook the absolutely fundamental positive role of CO2 in life on this planet. Only now recovering from near-catastrophically low levels in recent ice ages, the increase in CO2 levels is measurably boosting crop yields around the globe. “Global greening” is an established fact, and we have higher CO2 levels to thank.

    CO2 is not a pollutant …. It is the stuff of life.

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