Carbon emissions from U.S energy sources in 2016 are expected to be the lowest in nearly 25 years, according to an analysis from the U.S. Department of Energy.
Carbon emissions for the first six months of 2016 hit a record low — emissions were 2,530 million metric tons, which was the lowest for the first half of a year since 1991. An analysis by the department’s Energy Information Administration attributes the drop to mild weather and the shift from coal to cleaner-burning natural gas and renewable energy in U.S. power production. .
Warmer winter weather during the first six months of this year kept demand for heating fuels, like natural gas and heating oil, lower. Overall, the winter of 2016 had the fewest heating degree days since 1949 — heating degree days are the number of days when temperatures drop below 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
But changing energy sources also helped drive emissions down to a record low. Coal consumption dropped during the first six months of 2016, by 18 percent. This fall, the EIA said that coal production in the U.S. was on track to be the lowest since 1978.
The use of wind energy, hydroelectric power and solar energy also increased during the first six months of 2016. Most of the increase in renewable power came from wind energy, but hydroelectric power also increased as drought conditions lessened on the West Coast.