The 2010s Were Hottest Recorded, 2019 2nd Warmest Year, With U.S. Carbon Emissions Lower

Graph: Copernicus Climate Change Service

We will start with the good news — due to closures of coal-fired power plants, U.S. greenhouse gas emissions fell in 2019, according to an analysis of preliminary figures published Tuesday by the Rhodium Group, CNN reported.  However, as Axios reported, the 2010s was a decade of record-high global temperatures, with 2016 coming in as the hottest year on record just beating 2019 by 0.04 degrees Celsius, according to an analysis by Europe’s Copernicus Climate Change Service using U.S. government climate data.

Why This Matters:  These trends need to both be heading down — even if our greenhouse gas emissions fell slightly, we need to make deeper emissions cuts to stop the global temperatures from spiral even higher in the 20s.  We need to build on and rapidly expand the successes of 2019 emissions reductions into other sectors and globally.  There is no time to waste — which is crystal clear now as we take in the decade’s temperature spike, as the chart above makes patently obvious.

Lower Emissions — Good News By The Numbers

  • “Coal power generation fell 18% in 2019, representing the steepest year-over-year decline in recorded history.”
  • “Coal power generation in the US was at its lowest levels since 1975,”  even as the Trump administration worked to prop up the industry.
  • “Power generation is one-fourth of the overall U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.”
  • But, but, but — “the energy sector was the only sector of the US economy that significantly cut greenhouse gas emissions in 2019.”
  • Emissions from other sectors of the economy, such as “transportation, buildings, industry, and agriculture either were roughly flat or even rose slightly.”
  • Greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. were 2.1% higher in 2018 than in 2019.

Higher Temperatures — Bad News By The Numbers

Axios lays them out this way:

  • “The five warmest years on record have all occurred in the last 5 years.”
  • “Globally, the calendar year 2019 was 0.59°C warmer than the 1981–2010 average.”
  • “2016 is the warmest calendar year on record, with a global temperature 0.63°C above that for 1981–2010.
  • “The third warmest calendar year, 2017, had a temperature 0.54°C above average.”

Bottom Line:  According to CNN, across the globe, “nearly every region experienced above-average temperatures in 2019, but Europe, Australia, southern Africa, and the Arctic felt particularly hot temperatures that were well above normal.”

Graph: Copernicus Climate Change Service

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