Pielke Jr. Key Points: "The U.S. has not yet begun its journey towards net-zero carbon dioxide, whether by 2050 or any other year. None of the proposals put forward by Democratic candidates for president are plausible. This battle has yet to be joined."
"Carbon dioxide emissions reductions in the United States since 2005 are largely the result of the displacement of coal, which is very carbon intensive, by natural gas. Consider that U.S. fossil fuel consumption was just about the same in 1999 and 2018, but carbon dioxide emissions were about 550 million metric tonnes more in 1999 than in 2018. This decrease represents the effects of natural gas displacing coal, but not any less reliance on fossil fuels."
"The evidence indicates that none of the increase in renewables deployment has actually replaced any fossil fuel consumption. U.S. fossil fuel consumption has continued to increase. In the decade following the 2009 financial crisis, carbon-free consumption increased by about 75 mtoe, but fossil fuel consumption also increased by about 75 mtoe. The notable addition of renewables to the U.S. energy mix has all been additive – it has not displaced any fossil fuels."
"The United States saw its carbon dioxide emissions drop by almost 14% from 2005 to 2018, as you can see in the figure below, according to data from BP. As a base year for comparison, 2005 is often selected because it was the year in which U.S. carbon dioxide emissions peaked. Over that same time period carbon-free energy– from nuclear, hydro and renewables – increased its role in energy consumption from 11.6% to 15.7%."
"The U.S. experience shows how a focus on emissions can mislead. Even though emissions dropped from 1999 to 2018, the U.S. is no closer to net-zero carbon dioxide because total fossil fuel consumption is unchanged."
"During the Obama administration, fossil fuel consumption dropped by about 100 mtoe, while renewables increased by about 60 mtoe. It might have seemed that carbon-free energy displaced fossil fuels during this period, but again, the overwhelming factor influencing energy outcomes appears to be the 2009 financial crisis."